Winning against Sri Lanka at home is no easy task. They are essentially a team that has some crafty spinners who can roll their arms, in what has over a long period of time, appeared to the touring nations, as pitches tailor-made to suit the home team!
Statistics don’t lie – this is the first time an Indian ODI team has won a bilateral series in the island nation. It’s all the more remarkable given the circumstances in which the team achieved the series victory.
Crushed in the test series, appearing to have no clues to the wily turn of Mendis, one thought the team would take the road that our countrymen are so well aware of! But in a surprising turnaround, apart from wining three matches on the trot, every win was progressively decisive and for once it wasn’t individual brilliance but collective effort that did the trick.
Playing without Sachin, Saurav, Dravid, Laxman and Sehwag, when world attention was focused on the erstwhile unimaginable joy that we were witness to in Beijing where we managed to grab one gold and two bronze, when television channels and newspapers amazingly commented that Olympics is getting more viewer ship than cricket, this series victory is all the more sweet.
We can take heart from the fact that after a long time, our team has a prospective and potentially dangerous bunch of youngsters who are raring to go and who thankfully don’t find themselves limited by a captain who has to please his peers and hence finds his choices limited.
The media has also pretty much found Kirsten a difficult customer for the gossip and rumor mills. He has been allowed to focus on his job and fortunately got a young side that features almost none of his contemporaries. Hence the question of ego clashes did not arise.
Dhoni has emerged as a leader who leads by example. Indeed, but for his crucial knock of 35+ in the low scoring second one dayer, we would have lost that too after the dispirited performance from our batsmen in the first game. Raina and Kohli have risen up to the big occasion and have demonstrated that they belong in the big stage. Raina has been performing consistently well right from the IPL. Rohit Sharma after his IPL exploits has disappointed a little, but given his temperament and technique, he’ll be back among the thick of things. Only Yuvraj has let us down with this shaky footwork but again he is turning into a batting all rounder with this left arm slow bowling.
The bowlers, especially Zaheer and Munaf have shown lot of promise. The former in particular has used his experience to good effect and helped the side with early breakthroughs.
Lastly, the umpires for once did not think too much before ruling batsmen out LBW. This was much needed as cricket after IPL was turning out to be more favoring the batsmen. Bravo, Billy Doctrove!
Finally, a few words for the losing side - Jayawardene with his never-say-die attitude in the third one dayer almost took his side home after a disastrous start. Hats off to him! Sangakkara and Dilshan thankfully for the Indians did not exhibit their special liking for the Indian bowlers.
Way to go, India and Dhoni!!