Depleted India seek revival

Depleted India seek revival

Depleted India seek revival

Mahendra Singh Dhoni insisted that the spirits were high despite the 200-run drubbing against New Zealand on Tuesday and he should know best, but it’s difficult to see how long India can maintain their sunny disposition, given the turn of events.
As if it wasn’t bad enough that their practice session was washed out due to heavy, incessant rains that lasted past mid-afternoon, Yuvraj Singh was quarantined after contracting dengue on Sunday. Ashish Nehra too is in some doubt for Monday’s must-win game against Sri Lanka, having picked up a glute strain.

The rain did relent enough for the team to have a light session in the evening, but with their focus seemingly divided, given the ‘informal’ comments from the camp in the last couple of days, India will need to conjure a mini-miracle if they are to reverse the tide against a team that appears to have all bases covered.

India’s immediate goal must be to find a way out of the morass they find themselves; by harping now on the busy schedule ahead, the team is not doing itself any favours. They must necessarily shed their ‘victimised’ mindset and let their cricket do their talking.

India and fortitude have never been mutually exclusive. There has always been a certain resilience about the Indian team that has translated itself into a stirring bounce-back after a hammering in the previous game. The five-day break between then and now should have reignited the kind of fire that saw them pull off a brilliant series-levelling win in the P Sara Test last week.

Unfriendly conditions
Having played the Lankans an astonishing 24 times in their last 58 one-day internationals since August 2008, India know exactly what to expect from their opponents. New Zealand, and the batting-unfriendly conditions in Dambulla, might have caught them off guard, especially with that match coming just two days after the P Sara victory, but they have had enough time since to gather their thoughts and reassess strategies.

India will miss Nehra, should he not play, more than Yuvraj, who will certainly not play. The Punjab left-hander has struggled of late, making only 182 runs in his last 11 matches, and looked distinctly out of sorts against the Kiwis. Virat Kohli should relish the challenge the conditions and the bowling will undoubtedly offer, eyeing this opportunity to move up the pecking order as the quest to nail down World Cup slots intensifies.

Nehra, by contrast, has been one of the star performers in the limited-overs game, his left-arm over providing variety as well as incisiveness. In Zaheer Khan’s absence, he has spearheaded the attack gamely, invariably striking early and then returning to use the slower delivery to good effect. He did have a bowl at the nets in the evening but should he be ruled out, a fit-again Ishant will walk back into the eleven, his extra height allowing him to extract the kind of bounce New Zealand’s quicks tormented India with.

It’s the batting, though, that needs to get going, Dinesh Kaarthick’s expected availability after the injury scare of the previous day the only bright spot. 88 all out in less than 30 overs must go down as one of India’s worst batting efforts in limited-overs cricket. Anything less than complete command of their game will be disastrous against Sri Lanka’s versatile bowling attack which will, in all probability, welcome Suraj Randiv back at the expense of Ajantha Mendis.
Having shown that it is possible to chase successfully in Dambulla, Sri Lanka will approach the game brimful of confidence, aware that a second win will push them to within touching distance of the final. Advantage Sri Lanka, then, unless there is a huge Indian backlash.

Teams (from): Sri Lanka: Kumar Sangakkara (capt), Upul Tharanga, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera, Angelo Mathews, Chamara Kapugedera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Rangana Herath, Lasith Malinga, Suraj Randiv, Ajantha Mendis, Thisara Perera, Chamara Silva, Dilhara Fernando.
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Virender Sehwag, Dinesh Kaarthick, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Praveen Kumar, Abhimanyu Mithun, Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ojha, Ashish Nehra, Munaf Patel, R Ashwin, Saurabh Tiwary.
Umpires: Simon Taufel (Australia) and Ranmore Martinesz. Third umpire: Tyron Wijewardena. Match referee: Alan Hurst (Australia).

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