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India vs Sri Lanka: A Mini Reality Check for Young India, and a Problem of Plenty in Spin

Team India had five debutants for the third ODI-- K Gowtham, Nitish Rana, Rahul Chahar, Sanju Samson & Chetan Sakariya.

Team India had five debutants for the third ODI-- K Gowtham, Nitish Rana, Rahul Chahar, Sanju Samson & Chetan Sakariya.

The tour ended with India scoring only 81 in the last game, but there were plenty of positives and learnings from the six games.

India’s tour of Sri Lanka has ended, with India taking the ODIs 2-1 and Sri Lanka taking the T20Is by the same margin. India started their tour with their second string squad, and by the time it ended, they were down to their third string thanks to unfortunate COVID related developments in the camp. The tour ended with India scoring only 81 in the last game, but there were plenty of positives and learnings from the six games.

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“I am not disappointed as they are young. They are going to learn and get better only when they are exposed to these kind of conditions and quality of bowling. Sri Lankan team’s bowling attack is an international bowling attack. They would have liked to score a few more runs. They now have an opportunity to reflect that not all wickets are going to be flat. We need to find ways to scrap and score 130, 140 on these  wickets."

Who better than coach Rahul Dravid to sum it up? At various points in the series, India’s batsmen struggled in tough conditions, particularly when it aided spin. It began with India managing only 225 in the third ODI, with spin accounting for six wickets. The last two T20Is saw India having only five batsmen in their side, but that should be no excuse for their performance, especially in the third game.

The likes of Ruturaj Gaikwad, Devdutt Padikkal, Sanju Samson and Nitish Rana could not up their game as Akila Dananjaya and Wanindu Hasaranga spun a web. India’s spin issues are out in the open now, and expect more of that from opponents in the T20 World Cup. In some ways, it’s a mini reality check for many who thought India’s depth is endless.

Captain Shikhar Dhawan starts well, but ends poor

The tour was going to be huge for Dhawan too. While there’s no doubt about his ODI credentials, his place in the T20I side has been under the scanner. He was not in the XI in India’s T20I series against England earlier this year. And with Virat Kohli announcing he’ll open, the pressure was on Dhawan to make an impact.

Dhawan started the tour with an unbeaten 86 in the first ODI and ended it with a first ball duck in the last T20I. In between, there were some starts but nothing major. Unless he has a tremendous IPL in UAE, Dhawan might be down in the pecking order for the T20 World Cup XI.

End of the road for Sanju Samson?

Another player who came with a big hope was Sanju Samson. With Ishan Kishan and Rishabh Pant above him in the pecking order, Samson needed a very good series. But that wasn’t to be. He made 46 in his only ODI game but like Dhawan, ended the tour with a duck. He seemed to have no clue while defending the spinners, and struggled against Wanindu Hasaranga.

For all his class, Samson has been a letdown in this tour. Given the competition, it’ll be difficult for him to break into the squad.

Prithvi Shaw, Suryakumar Yadav impress

The duo will be flying to England soon, but don’t be surprised if they’re also a part of the T20 World Cup squads. Shaw began the series with a bang, smashing the SL bowlers in the first ODI. There were no big scores, but his intent and attitude at the top came as a refreshing aspect.

Suryakumar is in a zone of his own, oozing confidence each time he bats. He was the Man of the Series in the ODIs (his first ODI series). He made a half-century in the first T20I before being forced to isolate. When most batsmen struggled against Sri Lanka’s spinners, SKY picked them with ease.

Problem of plenty in spin

Yuzvendra Chahal, Rahul Chahar, Kuldeep Yadav and Varun Chakravarthy. Each of them impressed in whatever opportunities they got, giving India a very good headache ahead of the big tournament.

Coach Dravid refused to single out any particular spinner, stressing he won’t publicly name two options for the T20 World Cup squad. However, he was gushing at the options India have.

“We have a really good crop of spinners who are coming through. Heartening to see how our four spinners performed and even stand bye spinner Sai Kishore is a really good bowler," he said at the post-series press conference.

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first published:July 31, 2021, 07:30 IST