Thursday, November 12, 2009

Serendip to the rescue

Sri Lanka's tour of India is off to a very soggy start. Two days play washed out and it's not clear there will be any play on the third. Thus, the Lankan lads are looking at going into the first test, which starts on the 16th, without any match practice. Two factors combine to make this not into a terribly big deal: tour matches don't seem to have the importance they used to (not in the kind of international calendar we have these days) and the Sri Lankan team is visiting from, well, Sri Lanka, and not England (conditions won't be so terribly unfamiliar to them). They will back their spinners to cause discomfort to the Indians (despite Mendis' decipherment, I'd be very surprised if he is not played with due respect), and they have the bats to exploit the conditions.

Yet, despite this fit with local circumstances, which has also existed in tours previously, Sri Lanka have not won a test in India. This is a rather strange business. The problem, of course, is that they are playing India in the same conditions, which fact suddenly dispels some of the strangeness of this particular achievement. But it does add a little spice to the proceedings, already enlivened by Sangakkara's channeling of the 'final frontier' in his pre-tour interviews.

For their part, the home side is up to it's usual tricks of over-inflated squads with curious selections (Sreesanth, really?) and dubious scheduling decisions (I'd much prefer if tests were only allocated to the big five of Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata and Chennai). Now that Dhoni has lost some of his aura (despite this year's loss of aura in one-day internationals, it will, willy-nilly, infect perceptions of him in test cricket as well), his moves might be watched just a little more closely.

I, for one, am intrigued. My personal battle with the timezones lies ahead.

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Blogger Suhas said...

Agreed on the dubious scheduling decisions (what is with test cricket's prolonged absence from Eden Gardens? Okay, political reasons, but still..)

As a touring side, the Lankans have a good blend of youth and experience, and actually quite a bit of firepower in both departments, but I get the feeling they still aren't taken seriously enough as a test nation in India (if the venues allotted to them are any indication). I would love for them to end their Indian drought in one of the first two tests; it would set up the series beautifully.

7:17 AM  
Blogger Subash said...

Wouldn't this be the first time Sri Lanka is facing India in India, without Kumble, since the early 90's? We have had Kumble to nail them with able support from Raju/Chuhan in the early 90's and recently Bhajji. We shall see how this one goes. But our pace bowlers are better as a group than what we had in the 90's however. Its a more settled batting lineup than Sri Lanka's as well and we are playing at home. I'd say, Advantage India.

If you thought Dhoni is gonna be any uncertain in his moves because spotlight is gonna be brighter etc, then, I think you are mistaken. The man has an unbelievable sense of self. I doubt he'll approach the test any differently if the ODIs against OZ had gone 4-2 India.

BTW, long time, no post?

3:52 AM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

Suhas: I wonder if Eden Gardens is still being punished for the riots in 1996 and 1999 (and of course, there is the Dalmiya factor). I think the SL boys will push the Indians hard just because I think the Indian bowling is a little flat and always becomes a bit flatter at home (and no Kumble this time!)

Subash: Word. Its going to be interesting seeing how the spin attack fares without Kumble. I agree advantage India but the batting better not screw up because I don't have that much faith in the bowling (what with everyone on the mend). And yes, a long delay; I've been out of it for many reasons.

6:47 AM  
Blogger Subash said...

word up! The batting order will be just fine. VS, GG, RD, SRT, VVS, YS, MSD.. i think we'll be fine. Bowling wise -- ZK, IS, HS, AM/SS. We are fine mate.

Of course, shit can always hit the fan, but that will be an exception than the rule.

7:03 AM  
Blogger Thiru Cumaran said...

Samir, haven't heard from u in a long time! ;)

Newayz, am feelin quite confident abt SL's chances. However, I'm just startin' to wonder whether Dilshan's minor ankle (or knee, I'm not sure) is worth risking...perhaps we would be better off picking Kaushal Silva to open and keep as well, thereby allowing Kandamby to come in for Pras J'dene!

However, our batting is really solid, just hope the bowlers don't turn up lame.

Mendis...might not be a good choice, considering dat even the Kiwis negated him in SL, which means that he's bound to get carted if he is released against NZ.

Depending on the pitch, I'd either take Herath or Welagedera as the 4th bowler...

Wt do u think?

8:46 AM  
Anonymous Som said...

Lanka will be undercooked but can't be underestimated.

12:05 AM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

CT: I wouldn't do the Silva experiment if I were you. Let the best gloveman keep. As for bowling, I'd hold on to Mendis; he still has the advantage of having messed with Indian heads the last time.

Som: Agree totally. They will be difficult.

3:41 PM  

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