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Former India pacer Srinath on how the ex-coach's exit has changed team's mindsets

Friday, January 23, 2022

'Chappell brutalised India's minds'

Sai Mohan

With less than two years remaining, Team India's road to 011 gets on the move and what better way to start than with a victory over the team that embarrassed them on that fateful day at the Queen's Park Oval? This study proves that India start as clear-cut favourites…

India – Since 2007 World Cup
Matches: 55
Won: 33
Lost: 19
NR: 3
Winning Percentage: 60

Sri Lanka – Since 2007 World Cup
Matches: 43
Won: 23
Lost: 18
NR: 2
Winning Percentage: 53

India vs Sri Lanka – Since 2007 World Cup
Matches: 11
India Won: 6
SL Won: 4
NR: 1

Sri Lanka at home – Since 2007 World Cup
Matches: 13
Won: 7
Lost: 6
NR: 1

The turnaround – 2007 World Cup to now…
India's heartbreaking loss to their islander neighbours during the 2007 World Cup slotted in a new folio into the contest between these two great cricketing nations. Sri Lanka went on to qualify for the final of that World Cup and the Indians were struggling to dominate minnows Bangladesh in the series that followed the tournament in the Caribbean.

Nevertheless, the equation has changed since then and the competitiveness between the sides has intensified. The Lankans are gearing up to face a cut-throat Indian side this time around – not one that eats humble pie. They are set to face a team of vigorous youngsters – led by a man who has clearly captured the imagination of a nation.

"The reason they lost that World Cup so badly was because Greg Chappell brutalised the players' minds. They were not able to play freely. He tried to change their approach. Indians are naturally gifted cricketers who should be allowed to play the way they want to – especially Sehwag. Chappell tried to create a rift and divide in the team but trust me this current team under Dhoni is united and hungry – very hungry," opined former India fast bowler Javagal Srinath in an interview to

Long time coming…
Since touring Sri Lanka for the first time in 1985 for a bilateral one-day series, the Indians took as many as 23 years to register their first-ever series win in the Emerald Island during their last tour there in 2008. If anything the Sri Lankans have become stronger over the years – especially with the influx of Ajantha Mendis in their line-up.

Srinath, who was a part of a host of series losses in Sri Lanka during the '90s, reckons that it is India's new found overall balance that has resulted in the good times of late. "It is the overall combination of this current Indian team that has made them so strong. The balance in their team is much better than that of Sri Lanka," Srinath told

"The pace trio of Zaheer, Ishant and Munaf match up to any in the world in terms of consistency. They have good, young all-rounders in Jadeja and the Pathan brothers. The captain inspires the players around him and the coach has built a great rapport with the players. More than anything else the experience of Tendulkar, Zaheer and Sehwag has also given the required impetus to this team. Besides them all these players are relatively new to the daunting pressures of world cricket," added Srinath.

Awe of Jadeja….
Having officiated as the match referee during the 2008 ICC under-19 World Cup in Malaysia, Srinath spotted this youngster from Saurashtra for the first time and has gone into raptures over him ever since. He feels that the series against Sri Lanka would the perfect platform for the left-hander to prove his credentials.

"Jadeja, even though 20, has vast experience in first-class cricket. He has played in two under-19 World Cups, did exceptionally well at the IPL and is ready for the big stage. I have been impressed with him since the day I saw him and I feel that a series in Sri Lanka is the biggest challenge for any youngster," Srinath said.

India's top-order better than Sri Lanka's 
Sri Lanka have used 8 openers in the last 12 months – Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara, M Udawatte, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Warnapura, Perera and even captain Mahela Jayawardene. These are signs that they have failed to gather an established opening pair.

Srinath feels that this is another reason India has proven to be a better outfit. "Sehwag, Sachin and Gambhir are the three best openers in the world today. The fact that Greg Chappell is not the coach anymore means that Sehwag is playing with a free mind and trust me when he is in that frame of mind it spells doomsday for the bowlers," Srinath said.

Change in mind-set…
Remember the times when the Lankan spinners – even part-timers such as Dilshan and Jayasuriya – would dominate proceedings against India?

The atmosphere created by champion off-spinner Muttiah Muralidaran made even part-time spinners almost unplayable. Now, you can throw in an eccentric tweaker with a first-class bowling average of 12.15 by the name of Ajantha Mendis into the scenario.

Srinath feels that the youngsters have fared well because they are too insistent and don't care about who is in front of them. "This is a different team because of the change in mind-set. These youngsters such as Raina, Gambhir and Dhoni don't care who is coming at them – even if it is a guy who has taken 1000 wickets in international cricket.

"I may be completely wrong and am just presuming but may be the Test batsmen last year gave a little too much respect to Mendis and Murali. You can't expect to see that from these youngsters. They will just go after everything, "a laughing Srinath said.