Dhoni pins hope on young players
ODI skipper MS Dhoni says his young side needed to be positive against the hosts, especially Ajantha Mendis, for the upcoming ODI matches.Updated: Aug 16, 2008 12:01 IST
India open a five-match ODI series against Sri Lanka in Dambulla on Monday hoping to erase unhappy memories of their last encounter.
Sri Lanka dashed India's hopes of winning a major title in the sub-continent in their previous one-day international, winning the Asia Cup final by a comfortable 100-run margin in Karachi last month.
Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said his young side needed to be positive against the hosts, especially spin sensation Ajantha Mendis who has been looking virtually unplayable in recent matches.
Mendis did not allow even Indian veterans Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and Venkatsai Laxman to settle in, claiming 26 wickets in his team's 2-1 win over the tourists in a recent Test series.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Dhoni, who had opted out of the Test series due to fatigue, was confident his side would rise to the occasion.
"It's an energetic side with youngsters," said Dhoni.
"Sri Lanka is one of the toughest places to play cricket as you don't get a lot of runs on slow, low wickets. You have to always stay positive."
Dhoni is one of the seven players to join the squad for the one-dayers, the others being batsmen Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Virat Kohli and Subramaniam Badrinath, all-rounder Irfan Pathan and paceman Praveen Kumar.
India were undone by an unorthodox Sri Lankan pair in Karachi, with aggressive opener Sanath Jayasuriya hammering a brisk century under pressure and Mendis grabbing six wickets for 13 runs.
Dhoni's side appeared to have gained a big advantage when they reduced Sri Lanka to 66-4, but Jayasuriya smashed 125 off 114 balls with five sixes in a superb exhibition of clean and powerful hitting.
Jayasuriya is the second-highest scorer in one-day internationals with 12,688 runs, behind only Sachin Tendulkar (16,361).
Only five other batsmen -- Pakistan's Inzamam-u-Haq, Australian Ricky Ponting, West Indian Brian Lara and Indians Ganguly and Dravid -- have completed 10,000 runs in one-day internationals.
"It will be an exciting one-day series. They will want to make sure (after losing the Test series) that they go home with a win in one-dayers," said Jayasuriya, who has quit Test cricket.
The Indian batsmen will need to be at their best against Sri Lankan spinners Muttiah Muralitharan and Mendis, who are expected to call the shots on a slow pitch at the Rangiri International Stadium here.
"Murali and Mendis together make it a top bowling attack. We will have to do really well to defeat Sri Lanka," said Yuvraj, who hammered a blazing 121-ball 172 in his team's victory in a warm-up game in Colombo on Friday.
India will be without star batsman Tendulkar, who was ruled out of the one-dayers after suffering an elbow injury during the third and final Test.
Sri Lanka have recalled opener Malinda Warnapura and fast bowler Dilhara Fernando.
Left-handed Warnapura, who has played only one one-day international, scored 243 runs in five innings with a hundred and two half-centuries in recent Tests against the tourists.
India (from): Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Subramaniam Badrinath, Virat Kohli, Parthiv Patel, Irfan Pathan, Praveen Kumar, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Rudra Pratap Singh, Munaf Patel, Pragyan Ojha.
Sri Lanka (from): Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Kumar Sangakkara, Sanath Jayasuriya, Mahela Udawatte, Chamara Silva, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Chamara Kapugedara, Chaminda Vaas, Muttiah Muralitharan, Dilhara Fernando, Ajantha Mendis, Thilina Thushara, Nuwan Kulasekara, Jehan Mubarak, Malinda Warnapura.