Plenty of exciting
Not often are there three evenly matched teams contesting a tri nation series. From the early performances, Australia, India and Sri Lanka have shown that each team is capable of a winning performance on their day. All three teams have outstanding players who can turn the complexion of a game at very short notice.
Australia are feeling the pinch of a number of players retiring from the game in the past year. Even though they constantly blood young players it is never easy to replace a vastly experienced player in a hurry. As much, the remaining senior players have also raise their game and provide improved performances.
What the Aussies seem to have lost in a small way is consistency in their performances. They were a side who could produce outstanding performances day in and day out. No doubt they will be working to get back to that state.
|Sangakkara is the only Lankan batsman who has mastered the Australian bowling, but Sri Lanka is yet to learn the art of beating them in any form of cricket. (AFP photo)
The Indians who have matched Ricky Ponting’s men for ‘rough house’ tactics have to some extent rattled the home team. They have also got a good balance now of youth and experience, with a number of younger players also coming up with major contributions.
The Sri Lankans made the most of blasting their way to victory against India when reduced overs and a reduced total gave them a slight advantage. It has also done a lot of good to their confidence, after being skittled out for a low score in their first game against the Australians. India beating Australia next up was also a shot in the arm for Mahela Jayawardena and the team.
Having contested a tough four test series has no doubt helped the Indians. They have got accustomed to the conditions, pitches and the relentless pressure of the Australians. Their batting line-up has become very solid, two players with tons of experience, Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar at the top.
Following them are fine supremely talented young players who excel in the one day game. Gautham Gambhir, Rohith Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Robin Utappa and Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni are bound to make many bowlers pay for many more years. Each has his own way of carving runs. Most importantly they are solid allround batsmen who are developing fast in all aspects of batsmanship.
Sri Lanka made a vital discovery by opening with T.M. Dilshan against the Indians. With Upul Tharanga still struggling to get amongst the runs, moving Dilshan up the order paid dividends. He has played in that position in domestic games and facing up to the new ball is not an unfamiliar encounter. Giving him an extended run in the top slot should be well worth in the current situation.
Both India and Sri Lanka will have to concentrate fiercely when defending not very big totals. Their bowlers at the initial stages of this tournament have not been consistent with their accuracy. Should the wet weather prevail now in Australia and the pitches get even better for batting then the bowlers will have still more hard work to put in.
The Australians have sufficient all round strength to still be termed as the team with an advantage. Their top players have not fired as yet and got a momentum going. Again, it all happens when a few players call it a day, within a short period of time. Each team plays the other on four occasions before the best of three final series. The tussle has only begun. It could be the last appearance in Australia for some of the senior players in the Sri Lankan and Indian teams. Often when a player knows that he digs deep and puts in an extra effort to finish on a high note.
It is never easy to beat the Aussies in their own den. Last year the Englishmen sprang a huge surprise when they won this tri nation tournament. This year India and Sri Lanka have the opportunity. Both teams have players who can put the Australians under pressure and produce memorable cricket. Their supporters wait in anticipation.
* Ranil Abeynaike is a former Sri Lanka cricketer and curator of SSC