The magic of the triple M
Finally it was a well executed programme. Now some may be wondering if it was Moody who was the second best in the run for the Indian plum as manager as right at the moment he stands very tall in every sense of the word next to Greg Chapell where achievements are concerned. Moody finished his first scene in the play with a series win against the West Indies and a Triangular win in which Sri Lanka was pitted against India.

It seems that the magic of the triple M – Marvan, Mahela and Moody has worked for the tiny islanders. They went through both series – the Test and the ODI’s with only one loss and two plums.

After dozing for a couple of months Sri Lanka started off the new season with many hiccups and it was only their experience in ‘big time’ that saw them pulling off the expected series win against the West Indies who fielded a team which was very short of graduates at the top.

In the aftermath of the early hiccups and when the one day-series began, the Lankans slowly but surely started firing their cylinders. Like waving a magic wand, every gear they changed was a forward gear. They were fearless in experimenting. They were also fearless in resting their time-tested champions. This resulted in two great achievements. The first being Farvees Maharoof coming of age with a hint of developing into a true all rounder for the future and the second being the rediscovery of Russell Arnold which indeed is a huge sigh of relief for the Lankan middle order.

In the run up to the final, the performance of the Lankan team depended on individual brilliance. In most of the games two batsmen in the middle got into top gear and pulled the side on to victories from very tentative positions. In the only game in which only one bat dug himself in, in Russell Arnold, Sri Lanka crashed to an unlikely loss to the West Indies.

In a post series TV commentary former illustrious Australian captain Ian Chappell said a contribution of a coach can count only upto 5% in the overall performance and I am sure that the Sri Lankan coach Tom Moody did contribute his 5% in the pre-match planning.

From the very inception it was evident that the local team came out with a game plan with adjustments for fall-back situations. It looked a well-installed plan between captain Marvan Atapattu, Vice captain Mahela Jayawardena and coach Tom Moody. May be the 10% luck worked, Marvan won the toss and elected to bat. From experience they knew the wicket would be very responsive to batting and would contribute towards the paramount importance of having a healthy run rate.

Openers- Marvan and Sanath got off to a good enough start making their scoring very brisk and on the fall of the first wicket brought in pinch hitter Lokuhettige to chance his arms. This showed that they had a preconceived game plan. Despite the early demise of both Lokuhettige and Sangakkara the middle once again held together with vice captain Mahela Jayawardena entering into a dazzling partnership with Russell Arnold to see the home team onto 281. At the end of the innings it was good to see three top order batsmen making half centuries. It was also very encouraging to see Mahela Jayawardena and Arnold coming up with repeat performances with their bats in the series.

On the chase of making 5.62 runs per over, the Indian task was also daunting. Adding to their woes opener Shewag was yet to come up with an innings worth his reputation. In the two previous bouts he was undone by newcomers Mahroof and Jayaprakashdharan for 11 and 32 respectively.

But this time along with his co-opener and former skipper Ganguly, Shewag strode in with a vengeance. He went at the Lankan new found seamers in full spate. In a twenty-two ball Afridi type cameo, Shewag rattled 48 runs, but was yet again undone, but this time from the experience and guile of Lankan champion Chaminda Vaas.

However in spite of the loss of the openers both captain and Yuvraj Singh seemed to be getting along unhindered. At this point many were querying the wisdom of Atapattu being bent on stopping the boundaries and not stopping the singles. But it was evident once Atapattu succeeded in choking the boundaries and slowly but surely started cutting out the ones and two’s through the clever shifting of his spinners and setting of the field till he induced the batsmen who were set on, to making mistakes. The trio of Murali, Chandana and Dilshan rose to the occasion and understood the importance of sticking to their guns.

It was a scene reminiscent of the times of ‘captain cool’ strangling his opposition. Then from an imposing 186 for 2 the Indian domino started collapsing. India who were well ahead of the required run-rate at one point then started falling behind till it became an impossible task to end at 263 for 9, but in real terms India dominated the fray only during the Shewag onslaught and no sooner he was checkmated the Lankan skipper put his fallback plan into action.In a plan of this nature every member of the team has to play his assigned role to the maximum of his ability and this showed in the Lankan team. They went through the game as one unit and celebrated after the win as one unit.


Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.