If the crowd presence on the ground and the pre and post match analysis by the media are any indication of popularity, the first ODI between India and SriLanka has been indubitably cold shouldered by the cricket fans of both nations. Don’t forget, the revelation of Rahul Sharma’s drug usage during IPL had already triggered a controversy prior to the start of the series. A rustic start sans rain on a huge ground in SriLanka was not an unusual one for an Indian cricket connoisseur, but an Indian victory surprised many.
A huge ground with a shortened boundary and windy conditions excited many, but the dull rattling sound of the white cherry hitting the willow and the two paced wicket doused their excitement in no time. Sehwag struggling to get going and Dilshan dropping a straight forward chance offered by Sehwag, though unbelievable was accepted as symptoms of start of a fresh season.
Kohli and Sehwag made use of the fielding lapses of SriLankans and laid the foundation for a huge score. Kohli with his consistent performances in the recent past looks all set to be a new generation Ricky Ponting. Raina and Dhoni did well to maintain the momentum after the fall of Sehwag and Kohli. The SriLankan bowling attack looked toothless and Herath could not extract any turn. Kulasekara’s injury added to their woes.
The Sri Lankans had a start similar to the Indians. Irfan Pathan moved the ball in and out and looked like regaining his lost bowling form. Though his speed was in the late 120s, he seemed to bowl with his original bowling action unlike the high arm action with which he bowled, the last time he made a comeback. Umesh Yadav bowled a lot slower and raised a doubt whether he is becoming yet another Indian fast bowler who becomes a medium pacer after establishing in the squad. Ashwin extracted turn from the pitch which was missing when the SriLankans bowled. Yet another masterpiece from Sangakkara which proved that he is in top form. Perera proved his worth as an all-rounder. 16 wides from Indian bowlers led to their slow over rate, once again putting Dhoni in trouble.
While the cricketing nations debate over the introduction of new technologies into the game, this match exposed the limitation of the existing technology and the need to improve it. Sehwag was caught by Kulasekara with an acrobatic dive but the television cameras could not give a conclusive evidence of the catch and so allowed Sehwag to play a big innings. Another instance was the run out appeal against Sangakkara. Though his bat appeared to be on the line when the bails were dislodged, the cameras failed once again in giving a conclusive evidence which helped the batsman. It is time the ICC and the broadcasters sit together and find solutions for such problems. Using technology and giving the benefit of doubt to the batsman due to its limitations puts a question mark on the worth of it.
Had Dilshan caught Sehwag, had Kulasekara caught Sehwag cleanly, had Dhoni or Sehwag caught Sangakkara when he edged Umesh Yadav between the keeper and first slip in Umesh’s first over, this match provided a lot of possibilities to ponder. If what was seen in this match is any indication of what is going to happen in the coming matches, the batting of Kohli and Sangakkara and bowling of Irfan Pathan needs to be followed. Let us hope for an interesting ODI series in the coming days.