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Monday, December 21, 2009

Sachin's India surge ahead in the series - Cuttack ODI

Sachin smilingImage via Wikipedia
Dilshan and Tharanga seemed like they wanted to get the Indian score in the first ODI - that was the way they shot off the blocks. The Indian bowling was also wayward initially but the introduction of Ashish Nehra reduced the runs and the dismissal of Dilshan brought sanity back to the match. Probably, the Sri Lankans had a look at the history of the ground and decided that attack was the best way to approach the pitch - not that it was helping the bowlers so dramatically.

So far in the ODI series, the first 3 batsmen had got to good starts and made major contributions to the Sri Lankan totals. Here, once Sangakkara went at 165 (in the 23rd over) and Tharanga at 169 (25th over), the innings went downhill. Wickets kept falling regularly and Sri Lanka was all out by 45th over. 74 runs for 9 wickets in 21 overs is obviously a very bad example of planning your innings. Sangakkara needs to think about these aspects in the next game. Till the 23rd over, the Lankans were enjoying their stay at the wicket and scoring merrily at more than 7 runs per over. But, they did not get a final run-rate of even 5!!!

Once the ball got old, the Indian bowlers came back well. In fact, Ashish Nehra was the first one to pull back (by a bit) the scoring rate after the hectic start. Sehwag could have introduced Ravindra Jadeja earlier into the attack, in his place. Nothing will justify the praise that one can heap on Jadeja. The kid has been bowling superbly and today's performance was the cream. On recent records, one can safely say that he is India's No.1 bowler and not Harbhajan. The latter also bowled well today and kept the pressure. Ishant, Zaheer came back strongly in their second spells to restrict the Lankan innings.

Sehwag showed that captaincy did not affect his batting in any way - he came out blazing with shots on either side of the wicket. Sachin Tendulkar gave good support in the beginning and settled down to accumulate runs on one end. He was helped by cameos from Gambhir and Yuvraj. Sehwag sent in Dinesh Karthik at three down in place of Raina as Karthik is more a steady batsman than the others. The runs started coming for India in singles and the odd four helped the cause also. Sachin came close to his century but could not get it eventually!!!

The Lankan bowlers could not penetrate the Indian batting in the same way as the Indian spinners did. Muralitharan was badly missed here - his presence could have definitely made an impact. His combination with Mendis could have caused many a headache but it was not to be. Malinga was coming back from an injury and could not make a big impact.

Sangakkara has a problem on hand, with four of his mainline players suffering from injuries - how he makes use of the remaining team members optimally in the next ODI will determine whether they stay alive in the series or not.
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