India can learn a lot from Sri Lanka © Getty Images
Sri Lanka are on the brink of a famous series win in England after splendid performance in the last couple of days in the final Test at Leeds. As the team from the island nation is on the way up, its performance in Old Blighty should provide the necessary fuel to India in the upcoming five-match Test series, says Devarchit Varma.
Circa 2011, England may not have been a dangerous side in limited-overs cricket, but they were a tremendously strong Test side and were fast moving up in the ICC Test Rankings. They had beaten Australia in in their own backyard, and with an unlikely win at Cardiff by bundling out Sri Lanka for a paltry 82, they were able to register a 1-0 series win to start their summer in a spectacular manner. India were the next target, and they convincingly shot down the high-flying top-ranked side with utmost disdain, snatching away from them the coveted top-spot.
A lot has changed over the last three years . England are on a losing trot and are on the brink of their first series defeat to Sri Lanka at home. The tourists, who are in excellent form since the beginning of 2014, are not only close to creating history, but have also started the farewell party of their two greats Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene in a remarkable manner.
Sri Lanka’s success in England should light up the mood in the Indian camp. In 2011, England were high on confidence after beating Sri Lanka and they were on a roll. This time, England are losing, and it is India who should draw confidence. England are battered and bruised, India are fresh. Moreover, the loss would dampen the spirits in the English camp. Sri Lanka have shown the way to success in England. For a side to win, acute planning and execution is a must. Not only that, there has to be a lot of discipline as well. The Lankans were disciplined and focused on the task in front of them. India should take a leaf out of Sri Lanka’s book, as they have not only been successful, but they have the formula to succeed.
Even though England stuck with a four-pronged pace attack for the second Test at Leeds, Sri Lanka fielded their star spinner Rangana Herath. While Herath did not do much with the ball in the first innings, his arguably match-winning partnership with Angelo Mathews turned the course of the game and put Sri Lanka back in a commanding position.
Sri Lanka have come a long way from being a side that was beaten badly by England the last time around. They played with a lot of belief, and always kept their goal in focus. There were distractions, like the ‘Mankading’ incident involving Jos Buttler in the fifth One-Day International (ODI) affected by Sachithra Senanayake, who was reported for suspected bowling action in just the previous game. The entire team stood by him. A lot of their players were new to the conditions in England, but they got the better of England on all fronts.
Perhaps the foundation for Sri Lanka’s fight back in the second innings, wherein they were trailing by 108 runs, was laid by openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva. By the time Silva got out, England had already sent down 124 balls. This is one area where the Indians need a lot of improvement. Whether Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay will be able to provide strong starts is something only time will tell. But Sri Lanka have laid down the road map. They have already provided India the necessary boost.
(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)