India v Sri Lanka, CB Series, Perth February 8, 2012

Imperfect teams make for tight battle

The contest between India and Sri Lanka in Perth ebbed and flowed, but lacked intensity and excellence. Both teams have much improving to do if they are going to challenge Australia
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Finally we have a close game this Australian summer. Not a nailbiter, but certainly the closest international of the summer. It is little surprise that it has come between two old acquaintances that take attrition to a new level whenever they come up against each other. Interestingly, and surely there will be more than a few relieved by it, this was the first game between India and Sri Lanka since their World Cup final more than 10 months ago.

While it was good to watch a close contest, the reduction in intensity and quality from the games that Australia have played in was obvious. The Sri Lanka batsmen were rusty, and their India counterparts gifted wickets generously. The second ball Virender Sehwag faced today was a length ball bowled at around 130kph, and he duly smashed it for four. He has spent the whole summer in a futile wait for one such ball.

There was something missing tonight, and while it might sound a little harsh on the two teams, that missing thing was excellence.

India contributed to making the game more interesting. Virender Sehwag, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni fell to shots they were not in a good position to execute. Four of India's six wickets fell to poorly executed aerial hits with the team under no undue pressure. The fifth, that of Virat Kohli, was a brain freeze. Kohli was cramping, and he had seen two other batsmen play irresponsibly to get out. Then he too went for a single he would have struggled to make even when fully fit.

MS Dhoni, though, said the intensity was not lacking. "Maybe because there weren't 280 runs on the board or because the match didn't go too close," Dhoni said of why people may have got the impression the match was low on energy. "At times it does look like that but I don't think that was the case. We had our own problems to deal with, like ensuring Praveen [Kumar, who began with a poor first over] got into his rhythm and bowled his full quota of 10 overs. I don't think the intensity was lacking at any point."

Sri Lanka's strategy did not work that well. They must have seen India struggle against the Australia quicks all summer, and came into the game with three fast bowlers and two medium-pace bowling allrounders. They promoted Thisara Perera to take advantage of the batting Powerplay, but that flopped too, and they ended up with 23 runs for the loss of two wickets in that crucial spell of play.

Amid all this, though, R Ashwin raised his game. He has not had a great tour of Australia, and has struggled to bowl enough good deliveries in a spell. Tonight he bowled six overs in the Powerplays, and three in the last 10. The odd short ball that kept getting punished against Australia was missing. His first over was a maiden, after which the pressure built. A wicket - Kumar Sangakkara's - came, and the level of India's fielding, which was beginning to drop, lifted again.

When he came back into the attack, Ashwin dismissed an out-of-touch Mahela Jayawardene in the first over of the batting Powerplay. The bigger wicket was Dinesh Chandimal, who was well set on 64. With perhaps his best piece of bowling of the tour, Ashwin beat Chandimal in the flight and had him stumped after the ball spun away.

Jayawardene would have loved to have had Ashwin in his side. At least he would not have been left with an all-seam attack. "We felt that the pitch was such that four seamers would probably do the job for us," he said. "Picking up wickets is very crucial against India, and we tried to do that. Ashwin bowled really well, but he is Ashwin." It was the first time in the last month and a half that Ashwin was spoken of with such deference.

Sri Lanka would have expected Lasith Malinga to be as impactful with the ball, but he had an off day. The yorkers did not come out right and he did not swing the ball much either. Even when India were throwing wickets away, Sri Lanka could not make things happen. Ashwin the batsman calmly saw India through, displaying once again the composure that has shone through for him on this tour. With he and Ravindra Jadeja putting together a partnership to steady a wobbling India, Sri Lanka did not look like a side that had taken four quick wickets and were sensing a win out of nowhere.

Perhaps Sri Lanka are yet to get used to the conditions. Perhaps India have been under the pump from Australia for too long, and could not play freely. The end product was an interesting match that ebbed and flowed, but this tournament needs India and Sri Lanka at their best. If Australia are not checked, and the league stage becomes a shootout between the two touring teams to decide the second finalist, it will seem very long.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Fast_Track_Bully on February 10, 2012, 11:54 GMT

    @KiwiRocker. Funny to see you placed the WC winners and runners up in below class ODI teams and Pakistan and England in the 1st set!!!.You must be a English fan, otherwise, how can you forgot the 5-0 whitewash?!

  • harik24 on February 10, 2012, 10:46 GMT

    @a1-bundy:hi all,do u know sachin..he is only 100%fitness to the top eleven team..he knows very well when he go to heaven..he is only top scorer in every series like ODIS and TEST(except one series)past 2-3 years also......he is the worlds most constant & stability player......when he was went australia in 5times then 4times he was most successful and all other countries he was successful like england,southafrica,west indies and newzeland also....why he retires how he is top scorer in 2011tests in india..?

  • Nampally on February 9, 2012, 18:20 GMT

    @Jasonpete: You say Australia & SA are the only countries that win in "all conditions"!. Please check the stats which will challenge your statement. The Australians lost back to back - Home & away "Ashes" series within laST 12 MONTHS.Also don't forget even NZ beat the Aussies in Australia within past 5 months.Australia lost comfortably in both last 2 tours of India. You will find something similar to the SA team too. All teams perform poorly abroad whilst they are" Kings" at home! Only solution appears to play a full season tour(about 4-5 months) with a number of county matches rather than quick round of 4 tests. This give the visitors full chance to adapt to vastly different pitches & environmental conditions.

  • india79 on February 9, 2012, 17:15 GMT

    @ Al_Bundy1 god of cricket you were talking ruled and still ruling the cricket world. he played at immence presure for over 22 years which no other cricketer can even think of. without Sachin, cricket in India who cares, cricket in the world now will not be this famous. Still Sachin is the best player with high scores in all matches. 100th 100 is just one more to come in his records, it is not the only he is acheiving in his career like lot of cricketers from your part of world

  • india79 on February 9, 2012, 17:10 GMT

    @ jasonpete - this shows your great cricket knowledge, Aussies still trying way to win in India and all know how good SA in sub continent conditions. India is bouncing back and will rock soon

  • jasonpete on February 9, 2012, 14:23 GMT

    @ kiwirocker, As an Australian I would say,Australia and southafrica are the top two teams who win games in all the conditions and remaining teams like pakistan ,srilanka ,india so on win only in their subcontinent conditions.

  • on February 9, 2012, 12:45 GMT

    I am just saying why cant Sehwag bat in the middle order?

  • on February 9, 2012, 12:34 GMT

    Tendukar obviously is past his prime.As Imran daid in a recent interview given to CNN -IBN he should have retired last April after the world cue when he was on a "high".To linger on just for the sake of a record is unsportsmanlike like behavior . Is he playing for Bharath or Bharat Ratna ?

  • on February 9, 2012, 12:33 GMT

    @rahulcricket007. All the SL fans are in their respective places, I think winning just one match and talking too much your self. Anyway whoever come to final Australia is the winner.Either SL or IND can not win this series for sure unless AUS play with Shaun Marsh.

  • venbas on February 9, 2012, 12:27 GMT

    Also the Selectors should look at consistency as a key factor. A guy like Sehwag fails to the same reckless shot in 9 innings out of 10. Instead of dropping him, the selectors give the longest of handles to such people. Any opposition captain would be overjoyed with Sehwag in the India team because they will fully know that even if Sehwag may fire in an odd innings or so, the opposition can still be certain that they can get India down to 10 men within minutes. So even if a small battle is lost, the War will always be won by the opposition with such type of baggage players. As for the shot that Dhoni played yesterday, the less said about it the better. If it was some young guy who had done that crime, Dhoni would have ensured that the youngster remains in the confines of domestic crcket and not bother the national team.

  • Fast_Track_Bully on February 10, 2012, 11:54 GMT

    @KiwiRocker. Funny to see you placed the WC winners and runners up in below class ODI teams and Pakistan and England in the 1st set!!!.You must be a English fan, otherwise, how can you forgot the 5-0 whitewash?!

  • harik24 on February 10, 2012, 10:46 GMT

    @a1-bundy:hi all,do u know sachin..he is only 100%fitness to the top eleven team..he knows very well when he go to heaven..he is only top scorer in every series like ODIS and TEST(except one series)past 2-3 years also......he is the worlds most constant & stability player......when he was went australia in 5times then 4times he was most successful and all other countries he was successful like england,southafrica,west indies and newzeland also....why he retires how he is top scorer in 2011tests in india..?

  • Nampally on February 9, 2012, 18:20 GMT

    @Jasonpete: You say Australia & SA are the only countries that win in "all conditions"!. Please check the stats which will challenge your statement. The Australians lost back to back - Home & away "Ashes" series within laST 12 MONTHS.Also don't forget even NZ beat the Aussies in Australia within past 5 months.Australia lost comfortably in both last 2 tours of India. You will find something similar to the SA team too. All teams perform poorly abroad whilst they are" Kings" at home! Only solution appears to play a full season tour(about 4-5 months) with a number of county matches rather than quick round of 4 tests. This give the visitors full chance to adapt to vastly different pitches & environmental conditions.

  • india79 on February 9, 2012, 17:15 GMT

    @ Al_Bundy1 god of cricket you were talking ruled and still ruling the cricket world. he played at immence presure for over 22 years which no other cricketer can even think of. without Sachin, cricket in India who cares, cricket in the world now will not be this famous. Still Sachin is the best player with high scores in all matches. 100th 100 is just one more to come in his records, it is not the only he is acheiving in his career like lot of cricketers from your part of world

  • india79 on February 9, 2012, 17:10 GMT

    @ jasonpete - this shows your great cricket knowledge, Aussies still trying way to win in India and all know how good SA in sub continent conditions. India is bouncing back and will rock soon

  • jasonpete on February 9, 2012, 14:23 GMT

    @ kiwirocker, As an Australian I would say,Australia and southafrica are the top two teams who win games in all the conditions and remaining teams like pakistan ,srilanka ,india so on win only in their subcontinent conditions.

  • on February 9, 2012, 12:45 GMT

    I am just saying why cant Sehwag bat in the middle order?

  • on February 9, 2012, 12:34 GMT

    Tendukar obviously is past his prime.As Imran daid in a recent interview given to CNN -IBN he should have retired last April after the world cue when he was on a "high".To linger on just for the sake of a record is unsportsmanlike like behavior . Is he playing for Bharath or Bharat Ratna ?

  • on February 9, 2012, 12:33 GMT

    @rahulcricket007. All the SL fans are in their respective places, I think winning just one match and talking too much your self. Anyway whoever come to final Australia is the winner.Either SL or IND can not win this series for sure unless AUS play with Shaun Marsh.

  • venbas on February 9, 2012, 12:27 GMT

    Also the Selectors should look at consistency as a key factor. A guy like Sehwag fails to the same reckless shot in 9 innings out of 10. Instead of dropping him, the selectors give the longest of handles to such people. Any opposition captain would be overjoyed with Sehwag in the India team because they will fully know that even if Sehwag may fire in an odd innings or so, the opposition can still be certain that they can get India down to 10 men within minutes. So even if a small battle is lost, the War will always be won by the opposition with such type of baggage players. As for the shot that Dhoni played yesterday, the less said about it the better. If it was some young guy who had done that crime, Dhoni would have ensured that the youngster remains in the confines of domestic crcket and not bother the national team.

  • venbas on February 9, 2012, 12:18 GMT

    @pak94fan - Its sad that Sachin has to get his 100th hundred that way. Due to the public pressure, he may otherwise never be able to retire on a Bradmanesque acheivement(i.e, just short of perfect 100). Hence he will be forced to play and grind away for that elusive landmark, India will continue to go with all the papa figures in their team, youngsters will never get a chance to cut their teeth and ultimately the results will continue to be pathetic. Instead of becoming a laughing stock in world cricket, BCCI should take some firm affirmative actions and give the youngsters a chance. Only then we may see more Kohlis emerge from the wreckage of our recent Overseas tours. Winning or losing is all in the game, but losing 8 matches continuously with 6-7 of them by innings margin is just too much.

  • Al_Bundy1 on February 9, 2012, 11:47 GMT

    Agree with@KiwiRocker - Kohli and Ashwin in their short career have won more matches for India than the so-called GOD of cricket. That GOD of cricket needs to go back to HIS heaven (retirement home) because HE is blocking way for youngsters like RAHANE and MUKUND. BCCI is at fault for creating Flat Track Bullies like Sehwag - prepare lively tracks for Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy matches.

  • Mohd123 on February 9, 2012, 11:12 GMT

    GAUTHAM, TENDULKAR, KOHLI, ROHIT,TIWARY, DHONI,JADEJA, ASHWIN,ZAHEER, PRAVEEN, UMESHYADAV. IRFAN PATHAN CAN BE BOUGHT IN PLACE OF EITHER ZAHEER(FOR REST) OR PRAVEEN. LET UMESHYADAV TO PLAY CONTINUOUSLY. IF TENDULKAR FAILS AGAIN THEN BRING RAINA AND ROHIT CAN OPEN THE INNIGS WITH GAUTHAM. ONE MORE THING CAPTAINCY SHOULD BE GIVEN TO GAUTHAM GAMBIR, WHO SUPPORTS THE PLAYER (NOT STICK TO ONE OR TWO PLAYER LIKE DHONI DOES) AND INTERACT WITH PLAYER VERY WELL. DHONI IS ALWAYS THINK WITH HIMSELF NO DISCUSSION AND HE ALONE TAKES DECISION, CRICKET SHOULD BE TEAMWORK

  • on February 9, 2012, 11:00 GMT

    Y are everyone criticising dhoni ? hes been the best one day player for india for a few months now!! but i accept sehwag is struggling..he should be replaced by gambhir!and i think irfan should come in place of praveen kumar! those are the only changes i like to see in the next match!

  • on February 9, 2012, 10:23 GMT

    Are most of our leading cricketers morons?Consider Sehwag - in every innings he plays for the shortest duration and repeatedly gets out to the same reckless shots and seems little concerned with the requirements of his team-of which he is Vice Captain!Does he go on long tours just to bat a few minutes in each innings?His press comments about his style of play reflect his arrogance, but his performanceof late has been pathetic.Then we have Dhoni- Captain Cool has become Captain Zero!At the Post match interviews, he simply lists out the days failings - which all followers have alredy seen.On the field he simply allows things to happen and is neither pro-active nor reactive. Where was his sense of balancee and resposibility when he played that rank bad shot yesterday.Did he know the asking rate at that point of time?Has he forgotten how to pace his innings?It was ll simply disgusting.And Raina!!Why the lack of confidence to get a few runs with the remaining batsmen, even if Kholi were t

  • Naresh28 on February 9, 2012, 10:04 GMT

    @nampally - you are so right when u talk of identifying batsman with proper technique/footwork to deal with overseas pitches. No use selecting players who are fake in this respect. Coaches and selectors should be aware of this. I notice taller batsman are better for overseas pitches - of course there are some exceptions as Kholi has proved.

  • pak94fan on February 9, 2012, 9:17 GMT

    @Posted by venbas on (February 09 2012, 08:24 AM GMT)

    I agree that the majority of the older players need to go, but once again in your comment, I find that you all care way too much about records. Bradman retired when the time was right, even though he could have waited till his average got to 100 for the record books. Inzamam retired at the right time, even though he was 2 runs short of Pakistan's leading run-scorer, Miandad and 70 runs away from having an average of 50. I think that India need youngsters to step up and perform for their team, but arranging matches against Zim/Ban simply to get Tendulkar's 100th 100 seems like a desperate and unsporting tactic. If anything, these matches should be arranged to give the youngers/newer players a taste of international cricket rather than immediately thrusting them into the limelight against top teams. It's not like Tendulkar has a lack of batting records to his name anyway...

  • KiwiRocker- on February 9, 2012, 9:07 GMT

    R.Ashwin is an average bowler and a much decent batsmen. Actually, he probably has already won more matches for India than Tendulya managed in his 22 years career. This was a poor match bording around being boring. This match clearly showed the gulf between teams like England, Pakistan, SA, Australia and then second tier teams like India, B'desh and so on. Neither of these teams is even close to Australian team ( even without their top players such as Watson, Cummins, Johnson and so on). I expect Australia to easily win this series.

  • cric_think on February 9, 2012, 8:59 GMT

    Irrespective from the past 2Test series loss, you peoples don't have enough privilege to mention Indian team as "IMPERFECT TEAM". I am a continuously reading the articles, previews in ESPNCricinfo and I have a doubt that these articles are always one side supporting…. No probs in supporting them……… because if you start counting Indian Team supporters…….. it will be more than a billion. If some team lost in any series…. the articles are presented in such a manner to encouraging them but at the same time if India losses, the things are blown up and very discouraging.

    If the World Cup Winners & Runners are IMPERFECT team means….. what adjective you are going to give for the teams not even entered or gone past Quarter Finals….. Every team will have its own ups & downs………. It's all in game and in everyone's life…….

  • venbas on February 9, 2012, 8:24 GMT

    BCCI can organize as set of series againsts Bangladesh and Zimbabwe at home to give Sachin an excellent opportunity for 100 100's. After that Sachin should gracefully retire followed by Dravid, VVS. Sehwag and Vinay Kumar should be dropped. Gambhir and Ashwin put on notice for consistency else they should be dropped too. Dhoni can stay with a new look team to mold them and get results in 1-2 year timeframe. This way the cream of talent from Domestic teams would get a chance to play and eventually improve the standards of the team.

  • on February 9, 2012, 7:31 GMT

    There is simply no point to play two spin bowling allrounders. Play Aswin and drop Jadeja, as Jadeja has his limitations as a bowler. In his place, bring Rahul Sharma- a much better bowler and a genuine wicket taker like Anil Kumble. Morover, please rest Vinay Kumar and bring in Pathan. Pathan will do on these wickets. And, its time to go ahead and drop Raina. Too many failures. Time to give someone like Tiwari a chance. Infact it will not be a bad idea to play Tiwari as an opener and drop Viru to five/six as he will get more chances to play against spin, and Tiwari is technically more suited to handle short stuff

  • on February 9, 2012, 7:14 GMT

    Win against SL will prove at least a breather for a short period, but they are still some serious work required in all fields if they have to challenge Aussies, because I think if they reach the finals their will be Australia waiting for them. Amazingly how the change of opponents changes the games of those players who were supposed to forgot how to play untill yesterday. However what is painful to see the approach of them in chasing not a big total of under 250. It seems to be an habit of Indian team since time immemorial to stay behind the asking rate for a good part of match, and this is one of the factor between them and Australia who runs miles ahead of opponents and in the end win comprehensively. Though a relief that at least we are not third uptill now. The old disease of not finishing the game on one's own also seems yesterday and not only Rohit, Raina and Kohli but captain himself was unable to did it. Shuffle in orders is also a requirement.

  • on February 9, 2012, 6:59 GMT

    Sehwag & Gambhir alone need to be rotated among the three openers. Sachin is batting well, though could not convert the start to big ones. By the way --When will Sehwag grow up?

  • stormy16 on February 9, 2012, 6:37 GMT

    Despite being the WC finalists, the two teams are in a battle to play Aus in the final. Both SL and Ind look below par and out of form and not capable of getting past Aus unless they lift their game. Both have batsman to do the job and India's bowling certainly looks far superior to SL and I see it being an Aus V Ind final series.

  • rkannancrown on February 9, 2012, 6:21 GMT

    The Indian batting order needs tweaking. Dhoni must bat higher up - may be no.4 or no.5. Jadeja is also not a good finisher - he is someone who needs time to adjust. Accordingly, it is better to push Jadeja also higher up the order. Rohit & Raina are ok at no.6 & no.7. They like to throw the bat around & are more effective as finishers than as frontline batsmen. Their continued failiures also raises the question of whu not bring in Manoj Tiwari or Irfan Pathan in their place.

  • on February 9, 2012, 6:10 GMT

    My selection for next ODI- Sachin,Sehwag,Virat,Tiwary,Rohit,Dhoni,Jadeja,Irfan,Ashwin,Vinay,Zaheer.

  • DINESHCC on February 9, 2012, 5:55 GMT

    Against Oz game, we voiced against Ashwin for dropping him. Against SL game we praise him as match winner. Both are not good. Any player on any condition will have a good as well as bad games.

  • on February 9, 2012, 5:47 GMT

    I think Indian Team could some small tweaks, Sehwag must be dropped and I mean DROPPED, Sachin and Gautam must open, with Gambhir put on notice, if he does not click in this series , give other kids a chance. Praveen Kumar should be replaced with Umesh Yadav. If Zaheer needs rest ,then Praveen can play. Suresh Raina should come after Dhoni, who should bat No 5. Lastly India could think of experimenting the opening slot with Jadeja, Who seems to need a bit more time initially like Robin Singh of old days. Also we must stop playing Sachin after this tour, he has been India's best, but future of India players need their best oppurtunity when they are 23-24, else we may have many Subramanium Badrinath, who performed consistentlhy in Domestic series and never got enough chances.

  • on February 9, 2012, 5:39 GMT

    I think Ashwin has tremendous confidence and a fairly good technique as well. In fact he handled the short ball much better than Suresh Raina did. Unfortunately however useful raina might be at home, I think he is a sitting duck when the pitch has something in it. Even in yesterday"s sluggish wicket, he did not inspire any confidence and I worry for him at the bouncier wickets like the Gabba for instance. Back to Ashwin, he is a thinking cricketer, something that Virat Kohli does not seem to be. He had just hit a six and was already cramped and he took off on an impossible single. I remember him doing a similarly chaotic thing at the last test match, when he ran himself out, trying to defend the nightwatchman. I admire his confidence, though I wish I could say the same about his cricket sense. Batsmen in form should not throw away their wickets, particularly when the team is struggling. It was nevertheless a good win and lets rotate the bowlers now, get in Pathan as he can bat too.

  • on February 9, 2012, 5:13 GMT

    Do we really need Suresh Raina in the middle? His weakness (to short stuff) is known to all and sundry. He does not know to play the pull or hook, so why try to do this in the midst of a match. Seems he is learning these shots in tough match situations instead of doing it in nets or domestic matches. We are never short of middle order batsmen in domestic circuit. At least play Tiwary from next match on.

  • mrgupta on February 9, 2012, 4:50 GMT

    @Al_Bundy1: That's not a very nice way of treating senior people. I hope you don't refer same to senior citizens in your family. FYI, that senior player was the second top scorer for India on last two tough tours, top scorer in SA and the Top scorer in WC2011 which India won. You should learn to give respect to your seniors.

  • puneriMisal on February 9, 2012, 4:29 GMT

    If you go by recent stats considering both in England and Australia ; Sehwag should be the one player who needs to be dropped from the team on an immediate basis as he is not able to last more than 40 balls, in either Test or T20 or the one dayers. Awfully sorted out by both England and Australia. Tendulkar , Sehwag and Gambir are not young who should be rotated so that they have 70-80 one dayers under their belt when they play 2015 world cup !!! Ideally where is the grooming of youngsters in opening slot and pace bowling department in Indian Team like the Australians are doing !!!!

  • Rahul_78 on February 9, 2012, 4:21 GMT

    Could someone please tell Raina that OZ boundaries are not 50 to 55 meters like India where his heaves towards the on side will reach boundaries and look spectacular.

  • satish619chandar on February 9, 2012, 3:26 GMT

    Good win for India.. India had good game to peg back a great start which SL had.. Bowling in middle overs was good.. Batting wise, they could have done better.. With track good for batting and SL missing spinner, they should have closed out the match with 7 to 8 wkts remaining.. Rohit n Dhoni really disappointed with shot selection.. Good they won.. Winning ll allow to carry out of form players.. Hope Rohit gets more chances.. I think Rohit is a better potential than Tiwary.. If Rohit still fails, Tiwary should get chance.. Good to see Ash and Jadeja bowl well against SL who are good players of spin naturally.. Hope India performs same way against Australia too which is a bit tough..

  • unregisteredalien on February 9, 2012, 1:39 GMT

    Managed to catch most of the Indian innings on TV for the first time this summer (finally I am in a country where TV providers don't seem to have prohibitive pricing - China of all places!) and I was frankly appalled by all of the batsmen except Kohli. What a succession of pathetic dismissals. Most of them seemed to be going for the T20-style hero shot at completely the wrong time and with poor execution. I agree with Sidharth about the quality of this match and I really hope it picks up during the course of the series. Kohli played some very nice shots - pity about the cramping and eventual brain-fade.

  • maddy20 on February 9, 2012, 1:38 GMT

    It was disappointing to see any improvement in the middle order. Once again they have nearly played the match into the hands of the opposition. Such mistakes against the OZ have proved fatal all winter and the sad part is, we cannot see any improvement. I would love to Manoj Tiwary in place of Suresh Raina. From what I have seen, he plays the short ball a lot better than Raina. There should be a change in the bowling department too. Umesh/ Irfan should come in for Praveen Kumar. Irfan can compliment the fragile middle order and bowl some decent seamers and Umesh adds the pace dimension to the attack.

  • on February 9, 2012, 1:32 GMT

    histasP is right. IMPERFECT is absolutely the wrong word, since nothing is perfect. Also, it is not the two TEAMS which is lacking excellence; it is their PERFORMANCE -- there is a big difference. Both have excellent players, but are under performing. Incidentally, has anyone noticed; many of the players whom we, the public, criticized badly, are performing. We tore apart Kohli during the early part of the tour, he is the only one batting with guts and some consistency. Almost every one was against Vinay, and he is the only bowler, putting everything into his bowling, surprisingly in fielding too, and performing. He is currently the 'man to go to' for the Captain, it seems. So is the case with Ashwin. Jadeja was everyone's favorite whipping boy, including adverse comments about his immaturity. And he and Ashwin displayed cool heads, played sensibly, brought the team home with a calmness which was lacking in almost everyone else, including the batsman Dhoni.

  • on February 9, 2012, 1:03 GMT

    always the natural bowler wil last long, ashwin's carrom balll is not a natural thing,, and tat is also not effective!!!!! we are missing the flight and dip of harbajan singh!!!! harbajan had enough from the selection panel,he shud be called back!!! And rahul sharma wil be always better than ashwin...... And Umesh Yadhav shu have played yesterday's match since he was the best bowler for india in the test series......... another selecttion howler!!!!

  • on February 9, 2012, 1:01 GMT

    MSD can try out the following combo in the sunday game vs OZ...no harm in mixing the pot....

    [sachin, gambhir, kohli, rohit, manoj, dhoni, jadeja, irfan, ashwin, umesh, zaheer]

    what say u ???

  • Erebus26 on February 8, 2012, 23:46 GMT

    Irrespective of this game Ashwin isn't good enough to be in the Indian XI. He's an imposter at this level.

  • hsitasP on February 8, 2012, 22:23 GMT

    What do you mean exactly by the 'imperfect teams' heading? what is perfect in this world?

  • Al_Bundy1 on February 8, 2012, 22:16 GMT

    Vinay Kumar has bowled better than Praveen Kumar so far in this ODI series. Maybe Irfan can replace Praveen? Ashwin can bat better than our so-called LEGENDS. Maybe he can open the batting and we can send a senior citizen to retirement home? Manoj Tiwary deserves a chance, maybe in place of Suresh Raina? He was one of the top scorers in the recently concluded Ranji Trophy.

  • bingohaley on February 8, 2012, 20:54 GMT

    "While it might sound a little harsh on the two teams, that missing thing was excellence.".......why should it sound a little harsh? It is true. Call a spade a spade, that's what excellent journalism is all about.

  • on February 8, 2012, 20:41 GMT

    So much for the most brilliant captain in the world :-)

  • rahulcricket007 on February 8, 2012, 20:39 GMT

    WHERE ARE SL FANS ? ESPECIALLY WKLANKA & HERATH-UK .

  • chsj on February 8, 2012, 20:17 GMT

    Possibly Srilanka can deflate Aus team a little; India played too much into their (OZ) hands with static tactics and either diffidence or nerves. If at least Sri Lankan batsmen give some fight and unsettle OZ team a little, India also may manage a better show compared to what they put up so far. India just got into a rut and made the Aussie team look too good.

  • Nampally on February 8, 2012, 20:03 GMT

    @peterss: Yes Ashwin finally bowled well.He has been leaking runs & not taking wkts.- In the last ODI, he gave 9.6 runs/over!.Hence he incurs the wrath of the fans. However I support your suggestion for Ashwin batting higher.In fact apart from Tendulkar & Kohli, he has been the most consistent Indian batsmen in Tests. . I already suggested in my cricinfo else where that Ashwin should bat #5 - Kohli #3, Tiwary#4. Batting technique & footwork is so important on the Aussie pitches. Sachin, Kohli, Tiwary & Ashwin, all have the right technique in playing the Aussie seamers.They should form the heart of Indian batting. Raina & Dhoni are so poor that they look like sacrificial lambs while Rohit is trying to adjust his technique.My batting would be: Sehwag, Tendulkar, Kohli,Tiwary, Ashwin, Rohit, Dhoni + all rounder or Rahul+3 seamers.Ashwin is a much better bat than his #8 in a dismally poor Indian batting lineup .But is the Unenterprising Dhoni bold enough to shuffle as per ability? NEVER!.

  • jayaboy on February 8, 2012, 19:44 GMT

    srilanka have missed the trick by keeping HERATH on the bench,they must have a genuine spinner in their bowling unit.i thought Randiv is more effective than herath ,here in bouncy surfaces,but unfortunetly Randiv hasn't been selected to the original squad

  • anilkp on February 8, 2012, 19:41 GMT

    @Chilled_avenger: you guys will make a noise no matter what happens. Just over a week ago, people were screaming high-pitch on why Rohit is not getting any chance, and, with just two ODIs into the series now, you are asking why he is getting so many chances. What should the team management do, really? Further, you guys sound like every player who does not get a chance is a sure match winner. Perhaps we should wait, patiently, for new technologies to develop where you can imagine your team and see it on your TV. That way, a billion people will watch the same match in a billion different way and will have no complaints! Until that happens, let's use the power of our rationality to judge something.

  • Sports4Youth on February 8, 2012, 19:34 GMT

    can someone please arrange for a few series of India with Afghnistan, scotland, Ireland, Kenya etc, so that SRT can achieve the 100th ton. Please anybody don't suggest Zim, NZ, Bangladesh as they may not allow SRT to do it.

  • Ibanezfan on February 8, 2012, 19:28 GMT

    The ennui of the Indian team seems to have seeped in to the Sri Lankan team as well. :) Good to see Dhoni smile at a presentation show. And is it just me or has Vinay Kumar looked the better bowler in Australia than Praveen Kumar? PK's a lousy fielder but expects everyone else to set the field on fire when he's bowling :) I know many Indian fans want Vinay Kumar out of the team but I can never fault him for effort. His bowling in the last match was very disciplined. Most importantly, he seems to put in 100% all the time. That save at the boundary line was good to see. And all those Harbhajan fans who want Bhajji back in the team because he gets under the skins of the Aussies, get real fellas. Players must be picked for their performances, not for their worst qualities. Besides, did you notice that No Harbhajan=No Controversy and all the focus has been on cricket? That's the way it must be. If you want fights, go watch football.

  • wolf777 on February 8, 2012, 19:22 GMT

    I predicted yesterday that Irfan Pathan will not get selected...as long as Dhoni is the Captain...Irfan is wasting his time in Australia...Dhoni does not like Pathan brothers...

  • sweetspot on February 8, 2012, 19:20 GMT

    Let's not start badmouthing Raina. He didn't time the pull very well, but he is no longer jumpy against the short ball. Some of his shots were superb today, even though he got out for a relatively small score. He and Rohit have enough ability to put faith in. Both are one knock away from scoring heavily.

  • street_smart on February 8, 2012, 19:19 GMT

    Somehow MSD stick to some player whom he thinks has potential... One way it is good but still I would say sometimes instead of backing them too much, he needs to think intelligently because there are other players in better form waiting.... MSD will never drop Raina, Ashwin, Jadega... they are in CSK team as well.... I would like to see Irfan atleast in a match instead of PK or VK because Irfan is also a swing bowler like the Kumar but will add depth a bit in batting.... Manoj Tiwary should also be given a chance instead of Suresh Raina & should bat at no.4... he scored centure in his last ODI & also coming with a stong domestic season where he scored 3 centuries & 1 double ton in ranji... where raina's domestic performance has not been that good....

  • Naresh28 on February 8, 2012, 19:06 GMT

    Disagree with those calling for Raina/Rohit's head. These two can field. Rohit has been spoken of highly by Ian Chappelll as well. Just give him time. Since he landed in oz he played the tour games and missed out on all tests. Right now there are not many slots open - three seniors need to go from the ODI team. Lets give the youngsters a reasonable run.

  • Natraja on February 8, 2012, 18:51 GMT

    @chilled I fully agree with you. I have been telling this rohit is nohit. He has proven time and agian that against quality bowling this guy is a sitting ducvk. But it seems he had some good connection to be selected againa and again. Its time he should be dropped for ever and bring in Pujara or rahane and saurabh tewari

  • zuber21886 on February 8, 2012, 18:48 GMT

    nobody knows why is vinay kumar preserved for so long in the team where his performance is below than ordinary, you cannot judge a player without giving chances, comparisons are done on the basis of recent performances and for that chances should be given to Irfan

  • NP_NY on February 8, 2012, 18:39 GMT

    This guy Ashwin is a true matchwinner. He doesn't show any nerves, whether he is bowling or batting. And I like the way he finished the innings quickly because this series could come down to the wire between India and SL, in which case the run rate will count. True he can be quicker on the field and between wickets but as a total package he still completely deserves to be one of the 11 players playing for India. Win us the CB series Ashwin !

  • Al_Bundy1 on February 8, 2012, 18:21 GMT

    Excellent bowling by Zaheer and Aswin. Excellent batting by Virat and Ashwin. For a change, even Tendulkar contributed. I guess Sri Lanka bowling is not as strong as Australian bowling. Two weak points are - Raina and Sehwag. Manoj Tiwary should be given a chance instead of Raina. Rohit Sharma needs to get his act together. Maybe Ashwin can open with Tendulkar or Gambhir, and Irfan can play instead of Praveen Kumar. Vinay has bowled well so far in this series.

  • spiritwithin on February 8, 2012, 18:17 GMT

    dont understand y india's fielding level goes up and down depending on the fall of wickets,if we look at teams like Aus,SA and NZ their fielding level never dips irrespective of the situation in the match...

  • on February 8, 2012, 18:14 GMT

    Now people accusing Raina for the shot that he got out... he hit plenty of sixes with the same stroke... and it would have been another one if it was not in Australia. The mistake he did was failing keep the size of the ground in his mind before going for that shot. Jadeja got out last match attempting the same stroke... that was also caught at boundary which would have been a big six anywhere else...

  • on February 8, 2012, 18:09 GMT

    Please bring back irfan pathan :) give rest to vinay kumar for game it give depth to batting and bowling :) and rotating spinners is not a bad move at all ...ashwin bowled beautifully ....rahul sharma is good too hope to see him in next games ...but please bring pathan in ..

  • anuradha_d on February 8, 2012, 17:56 GMT

    dear cricinfo, you headline calls it scrappy win.......if Eng wins a similar tight game...you will call it "Hard Fought Win"

  • donda on February 8, 2012, 16:51 GMT

    Ah come on, put India against pakistan and you will see all the intensity from both sides. ICC and BCCI don't know how to ignite the blood in both India and Pakistani team , just let them play against each other and you will see nail bitters , eve hand bitters.

    Come on whole cricket world, let us see some great cricket instead of these boring ODI and Test series without purpose. Come on.

  • Chuck_Nunchuck on February 8, 2012, 16:49 GMT

    I really hope Sri Lanka does well against the Aussies and we get to see the Worldcup Finalists again in this CB Series Final. Aussies you have won the tests; let go off this CB Cup..we did help out resurrect the careers of Ponting and Hussey all over again. :) Final : SL vs IND

  • NSGD on February 8, 2012, 16:38 GMT

    First gavasker said sachin should retire from ODIs and focus on Test matches and now he says sachin should play all the matches, dear gavasker, make up ur mind first

  • on February 8, 2012, 16:38 GMT

    Very true! I too felt it. 2 imperfect teams trying for the second place. How the hell Aussies are this good in Cricket. Srilankans had their magic when there was Sanath,Murali and Vaas in the team. They had the ability though they didn't click in unison often. Today we were like out of options, may be because we didn't have a spinner.

  • rgom on February 8, 2012, 16:35 GMT

    Just yesterday there were so many people screaming for Ashwin's head. Wonder where they are now!

  • on February 8, 2012, 16:24 GMT

    I agree that both SL and India need to beat Aus, for the tournament to have any significance. However, the amount of cricket played today simply needs to be curtailed. Since there are only 10 countries, out of which most are struggling, the last thing you need is for them to keep playing all the time. How many times do India and SL play each other? Considering the lat tri-series also involved these two, at least one of the 2 teams should have been different. I hope that both SL and India beat Aus, or else this will be a meaningless series. SL still have lots of time, but I can't help feeling that they still need Dilshan, Sanga and Jayawardene to fire. Malinga apart, their bowlers are as good or bad as India, for whom Zaheer looks a class apart. Keep it up India!!!

  • mohanan on February 8, 2012, 16:22 GMT

    Ashwin bats with composure because his role in the team is bowling and there is no pressure on him to score runs. Every run he scores is a bonus.

  • on February 8, 2012, 16:17 GMT

    Congratulations to Team India. Jadeja and Ashwin have proved that they are quality players and can win matches. The same can't be said for Rohit Sharma, some fans dubbed him the next best thing, But in three chances he got in Australia his scores are 0, 21 and 10. This guy is not a player against quality bowling. He can thrash poor bowlers at Ranji level thats it.

  • MaruthuDelft on February 8, 2012, 16:13 GMT

    Where is the kid Ojah? He is a brilliant spinner. He should replace Jadeja. Then India plays with 5 5 1. India must play 5 bowlers and Ashwin does look difficult to dislodge with bat. With Ojah as the leading spinner Ashwin did well against Windies. May be seperating them was the fatal error India made against Aussies this summer. You know a good spinner at the other end reminds you if you forget something important and provides sync and resonance. Ashwin has forgotten to loop it until today. Bring back Ojah for all three formats. Rotate Vinay's spot with Umesh and in spinning conditions Rahul Sharma.

  • on February 8, 2012, 16:10 GMT

    Just want to mention that since the rules have changed for powerplays, there have not been high scoring games. When Pakistan played against Sri Lanka, there were issues adjusting to new rules for Powerplays.

  • WellwisherINDIA on February 8, 2012, 16:07 GMT

    IF THERE REAL ROTATION POLICY PLAN, AS THE PART OF MIDDLE ORDER a century holder in his last one day game MANOJ TIWARY SHOULD COME IN TO RAINA'S PLACE FOR NEXT MATCH, BECAUSE RAINA IS SO SILLY WAS IN THAT SITUATION TO PLAY THAT SHOT INDIA HAD 107 BALLS TO SCORE 77 RUNS, HE HAD TO SCORE SINGLES AND ROTATE THE STRIKE THAT WAS REQUIRED. I FEEL ROHIT SHOULD SIT AND PATHAN MUST COME IN HIS PLACE AS A BATSMAN AS PER INDIA' S PLAYER AVAILABILITY OR GAMBIR COME IN THE PLACE OF ROHIT. I cant believe , India's 5 wickets (except Kohli's runout-that was not necessary) all of them were "not wicket taking deliveries'' they have thrown their wickets.

  • doubtingthomas on February 8, 2012, 16:05 GMT

    Dhoni's response about intensity is so very disappointing. Will this guy ever stand up and accept that something is wrong? He seems to be happy in denial.There have been no indications so far about changes or extra steps being taken by the team after possibly the worst string of performance by any major team in the history of the sport.

  • WellwisherINDIA on February 8, 2012, 16:03 GMT

    I 'M NOT A GOOD SUPPORTER OF ROTATION POLICY FOR OPENERS,WHEN A TEAM WON THE SERIES, THEN REST OF THE MATCHES OR MAKE SURE THE FINAL BERTH OF THIS SERIES THEN MANAGEMENT CAN HAVE ROTATION POLICY. IT MUST BE ACCORDING TO THE SITUATION, I THINK SACHIN IS IN GOOD TOUCH, THOUGH HE GOT OUT AT 48, HE NEEDS TO PLAY ALL THE MATCHES. THEY SHOULD CONSIDER PLAYERS FORM/PITCH/OPP TEAM etc IN THE ROTATION POLICY. THE WAY SEHWAG BATTING/ IRRESPONSIBLE SHOTS IN AUSTRALIA, I FEEL HE MUST BE RESTED FROM THE ELEVEN FOR WHOLE SERIES, HE NEEDS TO PLAY ACCORDING TO THE SITUATION SOME TIMES, when you chase 233 in 50 overs he doesnt need to score 10 runs in the over, JUST A REMINDER HIS LAST ELEVEN INNINGS SCORES :- 67,7,30,4,0,10,18,62,4,23,10 TOTAL - 235, yea he crossed his Indore score..

  • chilled_avenger on February 8, 2012, 15:59 GMT

    Why oh why does Rohit Sharma get so many chances in the Indian squad? I have been following his career for the last 2-3 years and his only good performances are in the Zim/Ind/SL Triangular in 2010 and the two Home/Away Series against WI in 2011 & on both these occasion he was facing inexperienced and comparatively weaker bowling attacks! And if you take out the 3 aforementioned Series,his Batting average drops to a measly 22.64 which is not at all impressive for someone called the Best young batting talent. When up against an Experienced/Strong bowling attack,he always fails as he did in SA last year where he managed 49 runs over five innings! I don't care if he has a very exquisite technique or he plays gorgeous shots,if he hasn't learned to perform consistently after 70-odd ODIs,he shouldn't be blocking the route for other young batters like Ajinkya Rahane,Manoj Tiwary,Saurabh Tiwary,Cheteshwar Pujara etc.! Selectors,are you listening?

  • peterss on February 8, 2012, 15:52 GMT

    If Rahul Sharma had played, india would have folded below 200 from 181 for 6. Silenced all the Ashwin critics who spoke so much! More than his bowling, his batting has been a revelation. Should bat ahead of Jadeja. Bowling today was superb though!

  • on February 8, 2012, 15:50 GMT

    Like I always say, an ideal team is a mix of experience and young. This win should be a slap on the face of those who want seniors axed and more young blood in the team. What did Rohit Sharma or Vinay Kumar do in this game. Good display by Ashwin. Good to see Zaheer back. Now bring back Irfan Pathan and keep Raina under check.

  • on February 8, 2012, 15:43 GMT

    look at suresh raina's pull shot....technically .......its too bad......look at ASWIN shots.....so cool.....perfect with good balance...ASWIN is better than S RAINA....

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  • on February 8, 2012, 15:43 GMT

    look at suresh raina's pull shot....technically .......its too bad......look at ASWIN shots.....so cool.....perfect with good balance...ASWIN is better than S RAINA....

  • on February 8, 2012, 15:50 GMT

    Like I always say, an ideal team is a mix of experience and young. This win should be a slap on the face of those who want seniors axed and more young blood in the team. What did Rohit Sharma or Vinay Kumar do in this game. Good display by Ashwin. Good to see Zaheer back. Now bring back Irfan Pathan and keep Raina under check.

  • peterss on February 8, 2012, 15:52 GMT

    If Rahul Sharma had played, india would have folded below 200 from 181 for 6. Silenced all the Ashwin critics who spoke so much! More than his bowling, his batting has been a revelation. Should bat ahead of Jadeja. Bowling today was superb though!

  • chilled_avenger on February 8, 2012, 15:59 GMT

    Why oh why does Rohit Sharma get so many chances in the Indian squad? I have been following his career for the last 2-3 years and his only good performances are in the Zim/Ind/SL Triangular in 2010 and the two Home/Away Series against WI in 2011 & on both these occasion he was facing inexperienced and comparatively weaker bowling attacks! And if you take out the 3 aforementioned Series,his Batting average drops to a measly 22.64 which is not at all impressive for someone called the Best young batting talent. When up against an Experienced/Strong bowling attack,he always fails as he did in SA last year where he managed 49 runs over five innings! I don't care if he has a very exquisite technique or he plays gorgeous shots,if he hasn't learned to perform consistently after 70-odd ODIs,he shouldn't be blocking the route for other young batters like Ajinkya Rahane,Manoj Tiwary,Saurabh Tiwary,Cheteshwar Pujara etc.! Selectors,are you listening?

  • WellwisherINDIA on February 8, 2012, 16:03 GMT

    I 'M NOT A GOOD SUPPORTER OF ROTATION POLICY FOR OPENERS,WHEN A TEAM WON THE SERIES, THEN REST OF THE MATCHES OR MAKE SURE THE FINAL BERTH OF THIS SERIES THEN MANAGEMENT CAN HAVE ROTATION POLICY. IT MUST BE ACCORDING TO THE SITUATION, I THINK SACHIN IS IN GOOD TOUCH, THOUGH HE GOT OUT AT 48, HE NEEDS TO PLAY ALL THE MATCHES. THEY SHOULD CONSIDER PLAYERS FORM/PITCH/OPP TEAM etc IN THE ROTATION POLICY. THE WAY SEHWAG BATTING/ IRRESPONSIBLE SHOTS IN AUSTRALIA, I FEEL HE MUST BE RESTED FROM THE ELEVEN FOR WHOLE SERIES, HE NEEDS TO PLAY ACCORDING TO THE SITUATION SOME TIMES, when you chase 233 in 50 overs he doesnt need to score 10 runs in the over, JUST A REMINDER HIS LAST ELEVEN INNINGS SCORES :- 67,7,30,4,0,10,18,62,4,23,10 TOTAL - 235, yea he crossed his Indore score..

  • doubtingthomas on February 8, 2012, 16:05 GMT

    Dhoni's response about intensity is so very disappointing. Will this guy ever stand up and accept that something is wrong? He seems to be happy in denial.There have been no indications so far about changes or extra steps being taken by the team after possibly the worst string of performance by any major team in the history of the sport.

  • WellwisherINDIA on February 8, 2012, 16:07 GMT

    IF THERE REAL ROTATION POLICY PLAN, AS THE PART OF MIDDLE ORDER a century holder in his last one day game MANOJ TIWARY SHOULD COME IN TO RAINA'S PLACE FOR NEXT MATCH, BECAUSE RAINA IS SO SILLY WAS IN THAT SITUATION TO PLAY THAT SHOT INDIA HAD 107 BALLS TO SCORE 77 RUNS, HE HAD TO SCORE SINGLES AND ROTATE THE STRIKE THAT WAS REQUIRED. I FEEL ROHIT SHOULD SIT AND PATHAN MUST COME IN HIS PLACE AS A BATSMAN AS PER INDIA' S PLAYER AVAILABILITY OR GAMBIR COME IN THE PLACE OF ROHIT. I cant believe , India's 5 wickets (except Kohli's runout-that was not necessary) all of them were "not wicket taking deliveries'' they have thrown their wickets.

  • on February 8, 2012, 16:10 GMT

    Just want to mention that since the rules have changed for powerplays, there have not been high scoring games. When Pakistan played against Sri Lanka, there were issues adjusting to new rules for Powerplays.

  • MaruthuDelft on February 8, 2012, 16:13 GMT

    Where is the kid Ojah? He is a brilliant spinner. He should replace Jadeja. Then India plays with 5 5 1. India must play 5 bowlers and Ashwin does look difficult to dislodge with bat. With Ojah as the leading spinner Ashwin did well against Windies. May be seperating them was the fatal error India made against Aussies this summer. You know a good spinner at the other end reminds you if you forget something important and provides sync and resonance. Ashwin has forgotten to loop it until today. Bring back Ojah for all three formats. Rotate Vinay's spot with Umesh and in spinning conditions Rahul Sharma.

  • on February 8, 2012, 16:17 GMT

    Congratulations to Team India. Jadeja and Ashwin have proved that they are quality players and can win matches. The same can't be said for Rohit Sharma, some fans dubbed him the next best thing, But in three chances he got in Australia his scores are 0, 21 and 10. This guy is not a player against quality bowling. He can thrash poor bowlers at Ranji level thats it.