India v Sri Lanka, tri-series, Kingston July 3, 2013

India forget the Hobart blueprint

India had chased a similar target in tougher circumstances in Hobart, but in Jamaica they batted as though they didn't remember that achievement

Asking a team to chase 349 in an ODI is like asking Usain Bolt to run as fast as he would for a 100-metre sprint, but over a distance of ten kilometres. Bolt would be expected to start strongly, get into a rhythm and then keep sprinting until the very last lap. India's task against Sri Lanka at Sabina Park was as impossible as that hypothetical race. They had pulled off something similar before, though.

Once India conceded 348 on a pitch that behaved radically different from the sluggish ones in the first two matches in Kingston, it brought to mind memories of another chase against Sri Lanka, in Hobart.

At Bellerive Oval, India had been on the brink of elimination from the tri-series and needed to chase 321 inside 38 overs. They were aggressive from the outset, continuing the onslaught even after losing a few wickets, and attacked until the target was achieved in the timeframe that had seemed improbable. While conditions in Jamaica and Hobart were quite different, the method of that chase could have served as a reference point for this one.

In Hobart, Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar disregarded the slight lateral movement in the air and off the pitch to wrest the initiative. They played innovative shots to unsettle the Sri Lankan bowlers and also to announce India's intent to fight. In Jamaica, however, the Indian batsmen sleepwalked through the mandatory Powerplay.

India had been 97 for 2 after ten overs in Hobart; they were 28 for 1 on Tuesday. During that time, the asking rate of seven per over had jumped to eight. The lack of runs during the fielding restrictions could have been easier to understand had India lost wickets while attempting big shots, but the fact that they didn't show an intention to get a move on was baffling.

The blistering start in Hobart had allowed India the room to consolidate once the field restrictions were lifted. Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir scored at around a run a ball for the next twenty overs, but the initial blitz kept them at pace with the asking rate. The urgency, even when the big hits weren't as frequent, had been palpable.

Such urgency from two well-set batsmen - Shikhar Dhawan and M Vijay - was nowhere to be seen at Sabina Park. Either they were too bullish about their ability to score 15 an over later on, or they didn't realise the hole they were digging might be too deep for the others to escape from. Once they, and Kohli, were dismissed, it was over. India had lost the match within the first 20 overs of the chase. The fact that the slow scoring didn't prompt a change in the batting order, or the taking of the batting Powerplay before the 36th over, indicated a lack of fight.

The only batsman who showed urgency and the right intent, Suresh Raina, came in after the result was a foregone conclusion. The absence of MS Dhoni in the lower order should have dictated a more aggressive approach at the top, but it did not.

While two chases cannot be identical, India could have tried to follow the example they had set 18 months ago. Hobart was a perfect chase of a 300-plus total in a reduced number of overs; Jamaica was a perfect example of how it must not be done.

The most striking feature of the Indian team that won the Champions Trophy a couple of weeks ago was the fearless approach to batting. In the first two matches of this Caribbean tri-series, that approach has been discarded.

It is possible that this Indian team is slightly jaded too, for winning a major trophy can be physically and mentally exhausting. These players have played non-stop cricket for the last three months and that must take its toll at some stage. An excessive amount of cricket could mean that victories lose their sweetness and losses their sting. Hopefully, that is not the case yet for this young Indian team, otherwise there will be more of the same in Trinidad.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • SLMaster on July 4, 2013, 16:18 GMT

    I do not think India can run down such target with current team. Hobart team in India was talented.

  • dummy4fb on July 4, 2013, 15:49 GMT

    The Indian team has lost its hunger to win after achieving a CT win. After the world cup or champions trophy the teams should have been rested for at least 3 weeks before playing any cricket. Agreed the bowling attack is not great but too much cricket can take its toll on the players.

  • dummy4fb on July 4, 2013, 10:18 GMT

    absence of dhoni shows with out him India cannot perform well dhoni is a thinking captain and srilanka was great the opening pair did a good job knowing that its a difficult pitch to bat well done mahela and upul they hammered the indian bowlers at the last 10 overs once again well done team lanka all the best

  • Herath-UK on July 4, 2013, 9:59 GMT

    The beauty of Sri Lankan cricketers is they have this uncanny knack of setting records; what a set records reading the other article! Well done Lions. Ranil Herath - Kent

  • Arrenga2002 on July 4, 2013, 8:20 GMT

    well said Ruchira..very rational....

  • dummy4fb on July 4, 2013, 1:47 GMT

    @SunnyD even if they had waited six months after the CT, or use new players India still would get their spanking from Sri lanka and the WI.. These two teams also played the CT why does India need time to enjoy a win..A champion should always be ready..Please stop finding excuses whenever India get thrashed!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Kavum on July 3, 2013, 19:25 GMT

    This game was mostly about young skipper Mathews vs young skipper Kohli. For the next 8 to 10 years, hopefully, we will see this match-up. Missing Dhoni with his experience and sterling qualities, is obviously a HUGE influence on the team but, to be number one consistently, India needs leadership options. SL misses Dilshan. No one gave them a chance. If India had won, no talk about fatigue or pointless triangular tourneys, would be bandied about. India has got the better of SL more often than not in the past 18-24 months. They will most probably bounce back. However this pointless hating and one-upmanship over one game is just stupid. You know who you are! Just enjoy a great sport and be sportsmanlinke in cheering deserved winners on the day.

  • dummy4fb on July 3, 2013, 17:33 GMT

    I am a Sri Lankan fan and thought India have the strongest batting line in the World. However, it seems like they are not that good at all without MSD's leadership. MSD is Captain Cool who can handle situations like this in calm and cool manner. I don't think that Mr. Attitude VK has the same abilities what MSD has. In other words India without MSD's leadership like bunch of orphans who are running around with no control at all. It is partially MSD's fault too because he has not groomed Mr. Attitude VK for leadership. Bottom line is Sri Lanka out played India in every department of the game and they played some excellent cricket. Well Done Sri Lanka.

  • dhanuhskaS on July 3, 2013, 16:31 GMT

    Upul Tharanga is the best & most experienced SL opening batman among the young bunch! His career stats (ODIs 164 -5153 R -34.81 Av-13x100 -28x50 ) confirm it, but unfortunately he was systematically eliminated from the scene by the previous admin regime (DeMel/Mendis) of SLC! Just after a remarkable performance in 2011 WC (5th best batting record in 2011 WC scoring 395r at an average of 56.4 with2x100 and a 50) he was banned for 3 months with doping allegations (for taking a prescribed medication for an ailment) thanks to the responsible SLC physician's "overlook". Then repeatedly sidelined him to shatter his confidence! He was totally eliminated from Test cricket by that same horrible regime. It was quite predictable/ obvious, looking at the new replacement, who took his place! Preferred school tie "policy" prevailed for ages in SL cricket due to stupid admins. Even players like Dilshan (dropped for Mubarak), Chandana (dropped for Lokuarachchi) etc were effected during their careers

  • whocareswhowins on July 3, 2013, 16:28 GMT

    Totally pointless ODI series. No interest whatsoever. The Indian team should have been resting after the CT. But BCCI's insatiable greed for money brings on these last minute meaningless mind-numbing ODI series, like last winter's 3-match series against Pakistan, which India promptly lost !! Very sad to see the Indian team thrashed so comprehensively. They shoud'nt have been there in the first place..