Sri Lanka Vs India – The Preview
The first ever ITCS tournament to be held in Sri Lanka was the gold mine opportunity for all the Indian cricketers who were playing in the country. Though India won the trophy back in Hambantota back in 2007, this was the only ITCS fixture that the Indian team played in that season. The other three Tests that they had participated in were against UAE and Pakistan. So, what went wrong for the side that was in desperate need of a win and a place in the top three?
The answer is simple. The players just needed more time to gel as a team and focus on individual skills. During the course of the previous season there was a lot of turmoil in the team due to various reasons. Till finally things calmed down and a positive atmosphere prevailed. But this only lasted until the actual season started and unfortunately it was then that the Indian team began to lose its momentum and slip into the slump that is known as ‘slip Slump’. This happened to a team that seemed to have everything going for it and India needed to win the series to stay in the running for the top three spots in the world.
So, what went wrong for the side that was so confident of winning the series? It is a question that can be addressed to the management and the coach. Most likely the slip that reduced the Indians to their lowest state of physical condition came at the detriment of an individual player. In the case of Sreesanth the end result was the same. His phenomenal skill was not compatible with the type of platform that was provided by the team and he was out of the running for this year’s India vs Sri Lanka test.
So what has changed? Well there are many changes that have occurred since Sreesanth’s downfall. The change that seems to have affected Sri Lanka the most is the elevation of their current coach, assistant coach and even the team doctor to take over from him.
Having a coach who has previous experience in dealing with players with physical challenges like Sreesanth surely provides an edge to the team. He knows what works and what does not work for a player who is already worn out and fatigued. There is no doubt that Sreesanth was not up to the mark mentally and technically when he took on the Sri Lanka team. But he was still Sri Lanka’s number one batsman and even managed to retain his position despite the loss of his place in the starting XI. It will be unfair to put all the blame on him though as he is still only a player and has to live up to the expectations that are placed on him.
Another change that has come in to Sri Lanka cricket since the start of the IPL season was the elevation of Venkatakanth to the bench along with Muralidharan and Chaminda Ravi as the head coach and director respectively. These changes were done in order to balance the strength of their team with the weaknesses. Given the fact that Venkatakanth was known for his huge success in the Sinhalese cricket league with K Hambra, it seems sensible to have a head coach who has tasted success as well. Having a good relationship with Venkatakanth will always help in developing a good cricketing system as there can be no better teacher than the master himself.
Although Muralidharan may not be given a chance to show off his skills in the field due to injuries, he will more than make up for it in other ways. His experience of playing in the big leagues of cricket and his overall performance in the IPL have impressed the management of the IPL and the selectors. His presence is definitely a boost for Sri Lanka cricket as a whole and has helped them achieve many results that they would have missed out on without him. The selectors also seem very confident about selecting Muralidharan despite the fact that he has not been selected in the past two Tests.
Both the sides are rested for this Match. Given the long gap between Tests and appearances in the limited overs format this could prove to be an extremely tough Test Match. Whatever the case, it is certainly going to be an excellent opportunity for Kumar Sangakkara to stake his claim as the best all round player in the country. As has been mentioned earlier, he has been unfortunate not to feature much in the last few years. However, his two century against India at the end of the year was perhaps his defining moment, when he took a great catch to win a match for his side. With Sangakkara and Angelo Mathews leading the attack, Sri Lanka should prove to be a side to be reckoned with during the ongoing season.