Test of India's character

Test of India's character

Dhonis men need to pull up socks against high-flying Lanka

Test of India's character

Virender Sehwag and Mahendra Singh Dhoni enjoy their fielding session at the PCA stadium in Mohali on Friday. AP

The Men in Blue will have to show the same zeal and intensity on Saturday against Sri Lanka if they are to level the two-match T20 series. The Lankans had scored a convincing 29-run win over the home side at Nagpur on Wednesday to take a 1-0 lead.

The Young-led session could also be viewed as India’s earnest effort to make an improvement in fielding, an area where they came a cropper in the first match. Frequent misfields allowed Lankans to score at will, and dropped catches hurt India to a great extent.

A repeat of their fumbles on the field at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium on the morrow will certainly bring disastrous consequences. So it was not surprising to watch the Indians dedicating extra time to fielding under the watchful eyes of Young and coach Gary Kirsten.

The team management will also be hoping for a better performance from their batsmen. Chasing a tough 216, India had begun well in Nagpur reaching 93 for one in a jiffy. But thereafter they lost wickets in a heap and at 115 for six, there were no escape routes for them.

There will be a lot of attention on Yuvraj Singh, who will celebrate his 28th birthday on the morrow, and the home-boy also will be eager to come up with one those blistering knocks to mark the occasion, helping India to a victory.

One positive India will take from the previous match will be the form Ishant Sharma displayed. The Delhi paceman bowled in good rhythm and pace at Nagpur and he looked in fine fettle at nets on the day as well, running in hard and troubling Gambhir and Yuvraj with quick, rising deliveries.

With the Mohali pitch expected to provide some assistance to bowlers in the evening, it will be a great chance for Ishant to rattle the Lankans. If Ashish Nehra and Ashok Dinda or Sudip Tyagi can provide some meaningful support to Ishant, then drawing the series with a win here will not be impossible for India.

However, India will be without Rohit Sharma. The Mumabikar, who suffered a shoulder injury in Nagpur, is ruled out for the morrow’s game. Rohit has also been advised a week’s rest. Also unavailable for the second game running is paceman S Sreesanth, who has been hospitalised due to fever.

On the other hand, arrival of some fresh players seemed to have bolstered Sri Lanka’s spirit. It seemed impossible a few days ago that the Islanders could beat India, who lorded over the visitors in the Test series in emphatic fashion.
But this Lankan side carries a lot of steel in their heart, and their batsmen showed great character in the first match to rack up a total that was always going to be tough to chase. Their bowlers also showed a lot of heart when Gambhir and Mahendra Singh Dhoni were adding runs at a frenetic pace.

There will be no doubt the Lankans will approach morrow’s match with more confidence, than their rivals, and the only jarring point is the continued uncertainty over Muttiah Muralitharan, suffering from a bruised ligament in his bowling hand. If the Indians too hit their straps, then the weekend crowd can witness a memorable battle between two flair sides.

Teams (from):
India: MS Dhoni (capt), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Kaarthick, Yusuf Pathan, R Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Ashish Nehra, Ashok Dinda, Sudeep Tyagi, Pragyan Ojha, Ravindra Jadeja.
Sri Lanka: Kumar Sangakkara (capt), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Chinthaka Jayasinghe, Sanath Jayasuriya, Mahela Jayawardene, Chamara Kapugedara, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Ajantha Mendis, Muthiah Muralitharan, Muthumudalige Pushpakumara, Dilhara Fernando, Kaushalya Weeraratne, Chanaka Welegedara.

Umpires: Sanjay Hazare and Shahvir Tarapore. Third umpire: Saurabh Bandekar. Match referee: Jeff Crowe (New Zealand).
Hours of play: 5.30 pm onwards.