Cricket: How India lost the Lankan plot?

In life, most of the times things shape up contrary to our expectations. One does not have to look too far than the current India-Sri Lanka series to substantiate the same. Everybody was expecting Team India to roll over the Lankans with ease but after two consecutive victories in the ODI matches precious little went India’s way. So, how Lankans managed to turn the tables on Indians, is a million-dollar question on everyone’s mind? Was it overconfidence after back-to-back victories or excessive experimentation or lack of application among the youngsters or did India pay the price of grossly underestimating the Lankans in home conditions? There are several questions that beg for answers as India prepares for the T-20 World Cup to be held in UAE, Oman in October this year. Hence, it is time to explore the reason for India to stutter after a promising start. 

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Reasons why much the fancied Indians foundered on Lankan soil? 

Dhawan’s inner demons coming to the fore 

Shikhar Dhawan had the big opportunity to prove that he can still be a dominant force in the T-20’s for Team India. But the stand-in skipper blew it off completely, thanks to some questionable tactics with the bat. Apart from the unbeaten 86 in the first ODI, he never looked settled at the crease. The southpaw came across as the reel-life character torn between two extremities. It looked as if he was in a dilemma whether to attack or defend in most of the matches and got out trying to break the shackles created by himself. Has this got to do with Virat Kohli’s preference for KL Rahul as the opener in T-20’s? Whatever it is Dhawan needs to fight the inner demons that have clouded his mind. The Delhi batsman’s inability to get going had a huge role in India not getting good starts. 

Image Credits: AP

The Covid Crisis 

As we all know the invisible enemy called Corona is lurking around every nook and corner of the world. Sri Lanka was no different and Krunal Pandya testing positive for the virus midway through the series had a big role to play in adding to India’s woes. Not only India lost a useful all-rounder, but the team also had to let go of some players who happened to be in close contact with Pandya jr. This forced India to hand team caps to several debutants and resulted in upsetting the entire apple cart. More than anything else this Covid-induced crisis has served as a timely warning to every team that health protocols and discipline are a must and without these things can dramatically slip from one extreme to another. 

IPL stars flop big-time  

This new-look Indian team had some players who have been exceptionally good in the IPL arena. Starting from Devdutt Padikkal, Rituraj Gaekwad to Sanju Samson. All three have had several impressive seasons and possessed a range of shots even the best in the world cricket were bereft of. However, none of them showed a semblance of maturity or skill sets to excel at the international level. It was indeed embarrassing to watch IPL sensations such as Samson and Padikkal struggling against Lankan spinners such as Akila Dananjaya and Wanindu Hasaranga. Of course, the pitch was tough to bat on and the bowlers were competent but there was no Muralidharan or Herath for the listless displays by the IPL crowd-pleasers. Finally, it won’t be erroneous to conclude that these IPL sensations have a long way to go before they qualify for the national duties and the BCCI should also stop rewarding players merely on the basis of their IPL exploits. 

Respect the team in home conditions 

Everyone feels comfortable at home and people usually own the space. Similarly, Sri Lanka were always a tough nut to crack in their backyard but they have been not at their very best for the last few years. But one should never take the home side lightly and India undermined Lankan’s ability in familiar settings by dropping the guard after a couple of wins. This gave the home side enough gap to sneak into the series and eventually they did the same with elan. Ideally, India should not have gone for a haphazardly organised series like the present one where players hardly had any time to reassess their plans or strategies for a strong comeback. Resultantly, Sri Lanka won a series against India after eight unsuccessful attempts in the past. 

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