July 30, 2012
For a series that has been labelled as the most boring one in the season, the current scenario puts forth quite an irony. So far India and Sri Lanka have played each other thrice, each side has dominated the other on two occasions and India has managed to pip their opponents in the third encounter off the last over. At the moment, the series is precariously positioned with India leading 2-1 and a win from the hosts now could lay the way for an enthralling final. Try calling all of the above boring.
All said and done Sri Lanka still need to win the 4th One Day International, not just for the sake of the interest levels of the series but also to keep themselves alive in it. India on the other hand have a marvelous chance of starting their season on a high, by sealing a win in the upcoming ODI. With one side desperate to pull things back and the other eager to wipe off past memories of a poor touring season, this game promises to deliver a lip-smacking tussle.
Inside the dressing room
India: Despite the series scoreline being in their favour, India have looked slightly unpredictable as a unit. Fitness as always seems to be the ‘Achilles heel’ for the visitors. The injury to Pragyan Ojha isn’t the only concern, Zaheer Khan’s fitness levels on the field has been quite appalling. He has bowled some good spells with the ball, but if ever an artist wanted to paint a picture of a lazy fielder then Zaheer would make for the perfect subject.
Batting is what India has thrived on for generations, but at times in this series the men with the willow haven’t looked at their best. The second ODI was a perfect example of the rustiness in the batting department, however, the first and the third ODI showed just how talented this Indian line up can be with the bat in hand. Gautam Gambhir looks to be in top form and Virat Kohli too showed in the first game that he loves batting against the Lankans. Suresh Raina was the hero of the previous game, and on subcontinent wickets the left hander can be a real menace.
The big question on everyone’s mind is will Rohit Sharma get another chance, or perhaps does he deserve another chance. So far Rohit’s team mates have backed him and he might just be given a longer leash, however, one has to feel for Manoj Tiwary who has spent most of his time with this Indian side warming the bench. Rohit has scored just five runs in the series so far and in a ideal situation, Tiwary should probably replace Rohit for the fourth ODI, however, selection in Indian cricket has always been anything but ideal.
As far as the bowling is concerned, it has been a topsy turvey ride. With the new ball and in the middle overs, India has looked in control. The real problem has been with the death overs as none of the Indian bowlers seem to know what length to bowl in the last ten. Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni did say that he had some reservations about the way his side has been bowling at the death and there is no doubt that Sri Lanka will be banking on that particular passage of play.
Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene’s side has looked good in patches but have struggled to deliver the knockout punch. In the first ODI they looked far behind in class as compared to the Indians but were quick to dismiss that chain of thought in the following game. After losing the third match in the final over, Mahela and his men will be eyeing every opportunity to make amends.
Sri Lanka are heavily dependent on their big three, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela and Kumar Sangakkara. Having said that, it is quite obvious then that the loss of Sangakkara is indeed a massive one and it could certainly affect the fate of this side in the series. The left hander has been the highest scorer in this series with a tally of 206 runs and finding an apt replacement will surely prove to be a herculean task for the hosts.
Thissara Perera has been the go to man with the ball for the Lankans and has been their highest wicket taker with a tally of seven. The bowling line up does look like a steady one and has already shown in the second ODI that it can pose some serious threats at times. On these sort of pitches though, variation of pace acts as the real mode of deception and Angelo Mathews has proven to be a great exponent of the same until now. Lasith Malinga has been a bit of a let down, as the Indians have milked his bowling at a rate of 6.50 an over. All the more reason for the hosts to step up their level of batting.
Weather: Scattered thunderstorms have been predicted with a 60 percent chance but a similar prediction turned out to be untrue in the previous game. So if history is an indication of things then we should have a good game of cricket
Final Word: Sri Lanka haven’t been able to excel with the bat and should find it much harder to do so without the services of Sangakkara. If India can restrict the Lankans in the death overs then they should be able to complete a series victory.