The first test match between India and Sri Lanka has been something that I was looking forward to due to the changes in umpiring rules. Though it was exciting to see that a couple of umpiring decisions were taken after referrals to third umpire, the whole match was pretty boring with the clueless Indians succumbing to a superior side that was brimming with confidence, skills and professionalism.
Ajanta Mendis, after his heroics in the Asia cup, led by the wizard of spin, gave no chance to the Indians to even put together a decent fight. If you consider the rain affected time, the Lankans managed to beat the Indian in roughly three days, a feat that Australia has been doing for a while.
Momentum favored Lanka
Following their Asia cup win, the Lankans really managed to maintain the momentum. The good thing with them was that the majority of their one-day players also figure in the test team and hence the momentum clearly favored them. The decision to debut Mendis was a great one and the youngster did not disappoint the selectors, his captain and his country men. The Indians on the other hand have been fielding a bunch of middle-aged men that have been lacking match practice and athleticism for a while now.
The Twenty20 hangover
The Indians (and their cricket body) are also not really getting out of their T20 mode yet. Though the side claimed to have the best test batsmen combination on earth, that was only on paper. Moreover, they lacked a game plan against the best spinning side in the world! There have been complaints that the placid pitch did not add to the spirit of the game, but that was only a lame excuse and the batting collapse cannot be forgiven.
In the meanwhile, the Indian cricket think tank is busy taking on ICL and the English Cricket board in order to secure more money via the T20 format for the future as well. They are also helping out Pakistan’s cause to make sure that the Champions trophy is played in the neighbor country. Among all these high profile agenda items, test cricket seems to be taking the backseat. The Sri Lankan board at the same time is reiterating the fact that they have a clear plan for the test cricket. Arjuna Ranatunga even made a statement that the Sri Lankan players should quit IPL 2009 in order to take part in the England tour completely. I liked that attitude of the Lankans.
I hope that in the coming matches, the Indians would regroup and adapt. As I mentioned in the last post, the ideal thing to do was not to play all five or six old men together but rest one at a time and rotate them with youngsters. The case is the same with the spin bowlers as well (even if it would mean that Kumble has to rest in a match). If not, the Indians can expect a 0-2 or even 0-3 loss at the hands of the Lankans.