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India should learn from Sri Lanka’s fighting spirit before England series

India will take heart in Sri Lanka's strong display © Getty Images
India will take heart in Sri Lanka’s strong display © Getty Images

Sri Lanka’s tenacity is a great example for India as they prepare to face England in a five-Test series, writes Nishad Pai Vaidya.

Sri Lanka were almost denied a historic victory by some stubborn resistance from James Anderson and Moeen Ali. Yet, at the stroke of stumps, Shaminda Eranga was rewarded for his persistence when Anderson was stunned by a short one to hand Sri Lanka the series. Even as the 10th wicket partnership kept Sri Lanka at bay, the tourists did not lose hope and kept battling, maintaining the same intensity and showing that very hope of victory. Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Indian team would do well to learn from their neighbours when they face England a few weeks down the line.

As Alastair Cook said after the match, England had dominated for a better part of the two games. However, Sri Lanka hit back when it mattered and that helped them seal the deal. Look at the scorecards of both games. In the first Test, the visitors showed copious tenacity to hold on for a draw and even though England had the better of them, Sri Lanka didn’t look out of the game. In the second Test, England were in command during their first innings and were in with a good chance when they had four Sri Lankan wickets at the end of Day Three with the visitors only around 106 ahead.

It was due to Sri Lanka’s character that England lost out on those crucial moments. Angelo Mathews’ men showed self-belief and hope in the face of odds. Their body language was good and they approached the task with a very positive mindset even when the chips were seemingly down. India will now reflect on Sri Lanka’s success and would pick up many points. Obviously, they will study the way they outsmarted England, but they also need to take inspiration from Sri Lanka’s character.

During the last few months, India have lost the advantage in a couple of Tests as they couldn’t cash in on key moments. At Johannesburg late last year, they let AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis build a partnership that nearly won South Africa the game. But an even more compelling example would be the Wellington Test against New Zealand this year, where they had the Kiwis on the mat before Brendon McCullum and BJ Watling fashioned a remarkable comeback. There again, they did not finish the game when they had the chance to do so.

The lack of finishing touch is what haunted India on those overseas assignments, and here they have an example before them of how to get the job done and face England. This could be a good chance for India to perform well in the Tests given the fact that the hosts are down on several counts. Having said that, India need to finish games and be ruthless in their approach. It is something Dhoni should impress upon his troops as they prepare for the series.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)

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