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Sunil Gavaskar - Master's words

Dhoni's assured of himself so India won, Lanka struggle because Mahela's out of form

Saturday, January 31, 2022
Leading from the front

India's skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni certainly has a sense of humour. On the eve of the first one-dayer against the hosts Sri Lanka, he said that if his team won then the media would say it was because the team was fresh after the break from cricket and if his team lost then they would say that his men were rusty from no cricket. If any evidence was needed that he is perhaps the most grounded skipper in Indian cricket, it could be got from that statement.

He also is not afraid to lead from the front and that could be seen by the way he promoted himself ahead of Rohit Sharma and Yusuf Pathan when India had lost the wickets of century-stand makers Gautam Gambhir and Suresh Raina in quick succession. He knew that it was not just a matter of steadying the ship but also to see that the momentum given by the Gambhir-Raina partnership wasn't lost. He went on to stay unbeaten with a well compiled half-century in India's convincing win in the first game but has quickly asked his team for more effort in the remaining games.

Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lankan skipper on the other hand is going through a lean trot and so dropped himself down the order and had a newcomer Kandamby going ahead of him which didn't quite work out for his team. If anything the Lankan skipper with his class and experience must give himself more overs to bat so that he can get out of the lean period that comes to every cricketer. He has to believe in himself so that his teammates can believe in him.

India's performance was a team effort with just about everybody making a contribution. They have to figure out a way to get Jayasuriya out early because he can take the game away from the opposition. In Dambulla the heat was such that even the local players were affected. Not that it will be any different in Colombo but a day/night game does make it a bit easy on the team fielding in second half and the batsmen too don't get too tired after taking three runs. The dew factor will not be much in Colombo so the spinners shouldn't have a problem gripping the ball.

The dilemma for the Indians would be who to drop when Sehwag gets fit though with Raina scoring a half-century and getting a run-out; it looks as if Rohit Sharma will have to sit it out. Pragyan Ojha looked promising in his spell with the ball and India used the part timers well to see that the new ball bowlers were kept fresh. Sehwag will also help in the bowling of the fifth bowler's quota. So at the moment India look well equipped to take on any comers. Sri Lanka though are a side that can never be underestimated and particularly on their home soil. So we should be in for a thrilling game.