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Sunil Gavaskar - Master's words

India have dominated Sri Lanka primarily because Mendis and Murali have been ineffective

Sunday, February 08, 2022
Conquering M & M is reason for success

India have annihilated Sri Lanka in the one-day series and with one game to go, look like making a clean sweep of the series. This is a remarkable achievement for a team that only last year looked out of sorts against the same opposition. They had lost to the Lankans in the finals of the Asia Cup and then when they went to the Emerald Isle they were bamboozled in the Test matches by the spin duo of Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis and then in the one-day series they won with the narrow margin of 3-2. Here too it was the spin of Murali and Mendis that caused them the most problems.

In this series however the two spinners have looked totally ineffective and while Mendis was dropped for the fourth game, Murali had to wait till that game to get the third wicket he needed to get past Wasim Akram's record haul in limited overs cricket. It shows how splendidly the Indian batsmen have played the spinners and though they may not have taken them apart they have certainly neutralised their threat and made Lanka's bowling look very ordinary indeed. Any team that keeps getting 300 plus scores has to be batting well and in this series it is the two batsmen who floundered most against the spinners the last time are the ones who are getting the big scores. Gambhir and Yuvraj were the two who seemed baffled by which way the ball was going to turn. Both the southpaws have batted with great determination and skill and have been a joy to behold. There is also the mercurial Virender Sehwag who makes batting look ridiculously easy when he gets a big score. These three have been the centurions so far though the skipper Dhoni trying to get to his ton with a six was caught off a top edge and missed out in the fourth game. It is not just the big totals but the way they are toying with the bowling that is fascinating to see. The Lankan skipper simply does not know which bowler to turn to and there is no doubt he is missing the canny Chaminda Vaas who would have been useful down the order with the bat too.

There are some who will say that the toss is vital but the way the Indians are batting it would not have made a huge difference to the result of the series. True the Indian bowling has been taken apart too. They have had the luxury of defending a 300 plus total and so they have got away with it. More than the toss it is the pitches that are the main cause for this run riot. There is hardly any turn for the spinners and not much bounce for the seamers so the batsmen of both teams can safely plank their front foot forward and hit through the line without worrying too much about any deviation off the pitch.

Unless there is a drastic change in the pitch we could be in for another run feast and with the Australians losing to New Zealand and stuck on the points table India has a good chance of closing the gap for the number one rank with South Africa. That is the big incentive for them as they take the field for the final one-dayer.