Rehearsal for India, Survival for Sri Lanka
India vs Sri Lanka: dull on paper, important for cricket strategy
KOLKATA: What do you when you have to take guard against deadly bowlers like Kagiso Rabada and Morne Morkel? Many former cricketers used wet tennis balls, it gradually trickled down to bowling machines. But the stance of the current Indian cricket team — which will board the flight to South Africa early next year to play on bouncy pitches — is different and interesting. Under the august leadership of Virat Kohli, India is all set to take on Sri Lanka in a home series till December.
How is this relevant sparks another debate. It’s a known opposition and the conditions are favourable, but one shouldn’t forget that this Indian team likes to learn from mistakes. They had beaten England at Lord’s (in 2014) after being thrashed black-and-blue in the 2011 series. The Indian think tank wouldn’t like to repeat the abysmal Proteas tour they had in 2013 — losing the ODI and the Test series 2-0 and 1-0 respectively — come January.
Ahead of the first of the three Test series against Sri Lanka, India will straight away look to fill the gaps which may cost them dear in South Africa. According to sources, it is learnt that the Indian team management requested for tracks that are hard and bouncy with no grass covering for the whole series. Rings a bell? Isn’t it. The groundsmen at the Eden Gardens removed the grass cover on Monday.
As India may need their speedsters to hit the deck hard in South Africa, they picked all their frontline pacers for this series — Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma. However, it remains to be seen who complements as the third bowler.
Ishant, an experienced customer, can be an asset for India if used wisely. He needs games and the backing of the skipper. After all, he burst into the scene after bowling a deadly spell on a bouncy wicket in Perth in 2008. The good news is that he found his mojo in the Ranji Trophy recently.
Skipper Kohli will try and test his ‘short handle’ bat in this series too. He got the top portion of his willow chopped on Tuesday, which will help him in front foot driving.
Needless to say, the Indian team has also been practising a lot against short balls.
At the pre match conference on Wednesday, the 29-year-old Kohli revealed his plans which looked like a long-term design for Team India abroad. “We want to build our games in such a way that we want to be looking forward to playing anywhere in the world,” he said.
Kohli is clear that he doesn’t want familiarity with conditions. “We don't want to wait for conditions to suit our games. We want to rather develop our games for different conditions. If you want to be the top side in the world for a longer period of time, you have to win everywhere. If you can embrace playing in difficult conditions, that will be the difference. We want to be embrace being uncomfortable and that's the most important thing,” he added.
On the other hand, Sri Lanka skipper Dinesh Chandimal is excited to perform against India to boost his resume. “We are looking at taking the positives from the series against Pakistan (which they won) into the matches here. We know India is the No. 1 Test side in the world. They are a very strong opposition. But if we play well, the results should come our way.”
Before discarding the series as malaise, one must remember that this contest is a fight for survival for one side, Sri Lanka, and the step to a bigger stage — looking at overseas wins — for the other.
Expect a cracker!