Jaded rivalry banks on new faces
Match FactsSunday, May 30, 2010
Start time 0900 (0700 GMT)
The Big PictureThe greatest rivalry of our times resumes. Wait, when did it stop in the first place? Starting with the Asia Cup in July 2008, India and Sri Lanka have faced each other in a whopping 22 ODIs, six Tests, and four Twenty20s. The beauty of it is, what starts in Zimbabwe heralds a new beginning. By August 15, presuming these two teams make the finals of the three events they are playing, they will have played each other in seven more ODIs and three more Tests. And, whisper it lightly, there is a 20-day break for both the teams during the same period, which is a prime candidate for a hurriedly planned five-match bilateral.
Don't be surprised, though, if crowds in Zimbabwe and folks on TV give this rarest of rare contests a miss and find better things to do on a Sunday afternoon. That both the sides have rested their main players for the Zimbabwe tri-series is a small mercy, as some new contests might be seen.
The Indian selectors, though, have taken the whole rotation philosophy too seriously and forgotten to send a proper squad. At last glance, rotation in cricket meant resting important players in turns, one or two or three at a time. And even when players are rested en masse, the selectors usually ensure they send a balanced squad, unlike the one sent by India, which is made up of four specialist batsmen, two wicketkeeper-batsmen, three bits-and-pieces spinners, and six bowlers.
Sri Lanka, for example, have rested Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Sanath Jayasuriya, but they have Dinesh Chandimal, Chamara Kapugedera and Jeevan Mendis, among others, as like-for-like replacements. After India proved to be the equals of Zimbabwe, the minnows of the tournament, Sri Lanka clearly are the strongest side. It will take the young Indian side, three of whom made their debuts on Friday, and only four of whom have played a Test, some regrouping to compete with Sri Lanka.
Form guide (most recent first)India LLWWL
Sri Lanka WLWWW
Watch out for...Tillakaratne Dilshan's loss of form has been sudden and inexplicable. Perhaps he got used to India on low and flat tracks and found it too much of a culture shock when other sides on better tracks came prepared for him and cramped his style. That, like the other two captains in the tournament, he will be leading an ODI side for the first time will add more pressure.
After a smashing debut season, Ajantha Mendis, too, has slowly and surely become less and less effective. He will be bowling to inexperienced line-ups, and if he fails against them, it will be an ominous indicator of his future.
The heat is now on the Indian new-ball bowlers. It is no new thing for the medium-pacers to be the weakest link in India's limited-over sides, but these are new personnel, with no experience, and all by themselves in an unforgiving format.
Team newsAgainst Zimbabwe, India's medium-pacers went for 148 runs in the 23.2 overs between them. What's more, none of them troubled the batsmen. So India will be tempted to play both Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha. The only problem with that will be the presence of two part-time spinners in Yusuf Pathan and Ravindra Jadeja, who are more or less imposed on the XI because of the skewed nature of the XV. Unless, of course, India choose to play two wicketkeepers in Dinesh Karthik and Naman Ojha.
India (possible) 1 M Vijay, 2 Dinesh Karthik/Naman Ojha (wk), 3 Suresh Raina (capt.), 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Rohit Sharma, 6 Yusuf Pathan, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Vinay Kumar/Ashok Dinda, 9 Amit Mishra, 10 Pragyan Ojha, 11 Umesh Yadav.
The last time Sri Lanka played an ODI they were badly hit by injuries. So while they lose Sangakkara and Jayawardene from that XI, they have reinforcements in Angelo Mathews and Kapugedera. There should be debate over whether they want to play two allrounders, in Mathews and Thissara Perera.
Sri Lanka (possible) 1 Upul Tharanga, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan (capt.), 3 Dinesh Chandimal (wk), 4 Thilan Samaraweera, 5 Chamara Silva, 6 Chamara Kapugedera, 7 Angelo Mathews, 8 Suraj Randiv, 9 Nuwan Kulasekara, 10 Thilan Thushara, 11 Ajantha Mendis.
Stats and trivia
- Suresh Raina has played 29 of his 91 ODIs against Sri Lanka, Virat Kohli 13 out of 24, and Pragyan Ojha eight out of nine.
- Over the last two years, India lead the head-to-head 13-8, but in multi-nation tournaments, Sri Lanka lead 4-3.
Quotes"We need to work on our bowling. A couple of players are playing for the first time, but hopefully they will learn from this mistake."
Suresh Raina assesses the first game.
"I like it here. It's a good country. I made both my Test and ODI debuts here in Bulawayo in 1999, and I'm glad to come back as captain."
Tillakaratne Dilshan likes the environs.
Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.