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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

India Wins the First ODI in Sri Lanka: 28 January 2009

(This entry was first posted in Wednesday, January 28th, 2009)

India got off to a good start in the five-match ODI series against Sri Lanka as thy clinched a 6-wicket victory over the host Sri Lanka at Dambulla on Wednesday. Thanks to a Sanath Jayasuria’s excellent century, Sri Lanka managed to reach 246 runs after 50 overs. Sri Lanka lost their first wicket in the very first over without scoring any run on the board as makeshift opener Dilshan got run out. The dismissal put Sri Lankan under pressure, but Jayasuria and Sangakara got over the early setback, sharing an excellent second wicket partnership between themselves. Sangakara was a bit slowly in his modest innings, but Jayasuria started playing shots around the wicket and pulled off his 28th ODI century against his favorite opponent India. Here, one thing is that Jayasuria’s previous record at Dambulla was not good, but the left hander looked quite comfortable during his fantastic innings as he played shots pretty comfortably around the wicket.

Sri Lankan middle order could not support Jayasuria well, but he continued playing his natural game and to be honest, no Indian bowler could dominate over Jayasuria in the match. The way he batted at this age, I think, it is enough to prove his greatness as a batsman. Maharoof chipped in a fiery innings in the end which helped Sri Lanka to reach a competitive total. Maharoof is definitely one of the most promising cricketers Sri Lankan got over the last couple of years and the all-rounder seems to be great asset for Sri Lankan team.

Among the Indian bowlers Ojha was most successful with 3 wickets. He may not have dominated the Sri Lankan batsmen, but one thing is for sure that the spinner did not give Sri Lankan batsmen many chances in the match. Rather, he brought quite a few break-through for India, putting pressure on Sri Lankan batsmen. I think, the credit for restricting Sri Lankan within a reachable target should go to Ojha. Zaheer Khan started pretty well and bowled with sheer amount of rhythm earlier in the innings, but later on conceded some runs. Still, I think, his performance was impressive because of his dominating performance against Sri Lankan top orders. Munaf Patel was not impressive in the match, but young Ishant Sharma was up to the mark.

Chasing a competitive target of 247, Indian batsmen did not face much problem to reach the target. In fact, India was at the top all through the innings, though they lost Tendulkar’s wicket pretty early. In the second wicket, opener Gautam Gambhir and Suresh Raina shared a hundred-run partnership bringing India out of early setback. It is true that both the batsmen played very well as both of them got fifty in the match, but I was not totally impressed by their innings. Sri Lankan fielders gave them a number of lives in the innings and had those half chances capitalized then the result of the match could have gone otherwise. However, I must say that Raina and Gambhir batted excellently according to the situation, their second wicket partnership set up the platform for their India’s successful chase in the match. Having said that, I must say it was Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s another captain’s nock that guided India towards the safe landing in their pursuit to reach the winning target. Following two quick dismissals, Dhoni along with Rohit Sharma ensured India’s victory in the match, playing the highest innings for India. Sharma also supported his well.

When Dhoni started his career, he was well-known for his big shots, and many a times in the past, Dhoni lost wickets while playing unnecessary shots in crucial time. However, over the last couple of years, Dhoni has grown up as a player and has been showing high level of maturity in his game. The way he batted in the first match, I must say that Dhoni is one of the most reliable players of current Indian team at this moment, even though he is not technically perfect. For example, during his brilliant half-century, Dhoni played a couple of excellent straight drives which brought up couple of boundaries for India, but I must say that the way he played those shots were not technically right. The phase of his bat was not straight in the follow through of those shots. However, because of hiss high level of intensity and confidence, he can now dominate the opposition bowlers more than ever, showing a sheer mix of agility and composure in his batting. This is what a great player must possess. I am not saying that Dhoni has already become a great player, but the way he is going, he is in the right track to be one of the great cricketers when he would retire. Dhoni can now understand the situation very well and knows what a particular situation deserves from him, when it comes to batting.

Rohit Sharma is pitted as the next Rahul Dravid of Indian cricket because of his quality of keeping himself poised and calm even while under huge pressure. No doubt, he is a talented batsman and need to flourish the fullest of his potential in order to hold on to a regular place in the final eleven. Rohit Sharma has to show sheer amount of consistency to cement his place in Indian team.

India is now leading in the series 1-0. Sri Lankan can still come back in the series winning the next few matches. The question is that if Sri Lanka will be able to bounce back against a balanced Indian side.

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