Lankans have planned their cricket

Published : Sep 01, 2001 00:00 IST

I VIVIDLY remember that day in Mohali. India was playing a Test against Sri Lanka and Sanath Jayasuriya had tied the opposition down with his negative line. Even Sachin Tendulkar was helpless against this Sri Lankan's mean tactics but then Jayasuriya was doing what suited his team most. If his side could not win, he was only trying to ensure that it did not lose.

See, how things have changed so dramatically in the last few years.

Sri Lanka has handed the Indians a few bitter lessons and the defeat at Galle should serve as a grim reminder to all those involved in Indian cricket that there is a need to change the approach and outlook.

To say it was disappointing would be a gross understatement. It was humiliation and nothing else as India surrendered without a fight. I won't even call it a contest because India was only trying to defend. Trying to protect its reputation which at the end of the match was in tatters.

In comparison, the Sri Lankans were simply outstanding. This tiny island had shown its mighty opposition that it was extremely important to have a proper policy if the team had to do well in international cricket.

The Sri Lankans have planned their cricket much better than the Indians and the results have just about begun to show. It was a policy decision I was given to understand to change the nature of the pitches in Sri Lanka. Winning or losing was accepted as part of the game but to do well overseas even the Sri Lankans knew they had to learn to play on green tops.

So green tops were ordered by the decision makers and a new chapter was opened in Sri Lankan cricket. The pitches had to be conducive to pace, bounce and lateral movement. For the batsmen to survive overseas, they had to first learn the tricks at home and the process has begun earnestly this season. The Sri Lankans have realised, and not the Indians, that to do well outside the sub-continent the nature of the pitches had to be altered.

Sri Lanka has now become a breeding ground for fast bowlers. When they face fast bowlers at home, the batsmen also learn to improve their technique and it has been a wonderful process which has involved every cricket lover in the country.

The striking difference between this Sri Lankan team and those of the past is the self-confidence and self-belief. The Sri Lankans have also realised that they can not be a one-army team and have found support for Muttiah Muralitharan, the magic off-spinner, the established matchwinner in all forms of cricket.

In the past, the pressure used to be on Muralitharan to skittle the opposition out and it used to be one hard task for the off-spinner. But things have changed. Muralitharan has found partners to hunt the opposition and this lethal combination has spelt doom for many teams who have played the Sri Lankans in the last couple of seasons.

The Sri Lankans were guilty of a negative approach in the past, of wanting to draw the Test matches. They never had faith in their abilities until things changed with the arrival of Dav Whatmore, the most effective coach in international cricket today. The Sri Lankans play the most positive cricket and have been amply rewarded, the big win at Galle being the window to their superb progress in all departments of the game.

Sri Lanka too went through the transition period but monitored it very well. The absence of Arjuna Ranatunga, Aravinda de Silva, Roshan Mahanama, Asanka Gurusinha was felt for a brief while as the team found new heroes in Mahela Jayawardena, Marvan Atapattu, Russel Arnold, Kumara Sangakkara, not to forget the captain himself. Jayasuriya has played a very inspiring role in guiding the side to its potential, which I firmly believe, is much more than what we have seen thus far.

The Sri Lankans have a great passion for the game. They believe in collective strength and during off season, stay in one place in Colombo to maintain their concentration. They prepare professionally for the long season. The tunraround in the fortunes of Sri Lankan cricket has been tremendous.

The Indians are simply not learning from the past mistakes even though they have the wonderful example of Sri Lanka to follow. There is no cohesion in the side, which many times gives the impression of being a mediocre outfit. In the absence of Sachin Tendulkar, this is what the team looks and I know it sounds harsh but then it is a fact.

It is also a fact that this Indian side is depleted in the absence of Anil Kumble and V. V. S. Laxman but then there cannot be any excuses for the pathetic performance in the second Test against Zimbabwe and the first against Sri Lanka. These two Tests have exposed the shortcomings in the side which has gone from bad to worse with time.

The batting is inept. There are no big innings coming from the established batsmen. What do you say of a batting line up which has just one man hitting a fifty in the entire Test. It reflects poorly on the calibre of the batting line up. The team lacks guts and mental toughness. It was also a shameful development to see the Indian batsman struggling against a quick bowler on a pitch which was not very helpful to the fast men. By going on the backfoot repeatedly, the Indians showed that they have a poor technique. They also allowed the bowlers to dominate from the start which in my opinion was a bad approach.

The Indians will have to take a few policy decisions for the team to improve. And the beginning can be made by making the players realise the value of wearing the India cap. Self-pride is something which this team lacks. It has let down millions of Indians and it is time the team decided to shed its defensive and negative image and give its supporters something to cheer about.

More stories from this issue

Sign in to unlock all user benefits
  • Get notified on top games and events
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign up / manage to our newsletters with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early bird access to discounts & offers to our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide to our community guidelines for posting your comment