Chance for India and Sri Lanka to find solutions before the World Cup

Sri Lanka can find a replacement for Sachithra Senanayake and India can figure a long-term opener in upcoming ODI series, writes Osman Samiuddin.
Virat Kohli, left, will lead India against Sri Lanka. AM Ahad / AP Photo
Virat Kohli, left, will lead India against Sri Lanka. AM Ahad / AP Photo

Would anyone be surprised if it emerged that Sri Lanka were in as potential replacements for the West Indies tour of India even before there was a dispute between the West Indies and their board and players association?

Such was the haste with which Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) stepped in for a quickie one-day series. Such is the power of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), any one of the remaining seven boards would have jumped in with the same alacrity, probably even if they were mid-duel elsewhere in the world.

So, yet another India-Sri Lanka series, the cricket world may groan. Except that as familiar as it seems, the two sides have actually not played a bilateral series of any kind since July-August 2012.

More than any other bilateral contest, India-Sri Lanka represents all that annoys people about dead ODI cricket. There is too much of it. None of it has a point, or any tangible end meaning.

The matches, especially in India, have devolved into standard formula. Pitches with no life, batsmen adrenalised and bowlers, well, they are there is as much as can be said about their impact on these contests.

There are realpolitik gains to be had from the series already. India are likely to tour Sri Lanka next year for a full series of Tests and limited overs games, which would be their first in five years.

With a World Cup three months away, this is not a bad time to fit in a five-match series. Sri Lanka’s players have not been reluctant to point out they were taken by surprise at the shoeing in of the series and that they are under-prepared for an international contest.

But even they will concede that some extra match-time ahead of cricket’s biggest tournament is not a bad idea. If nothing else, it will allow them to start ticking off the various areas of weakness that need to be rectified before the tournament.

An opening partner for Tillakaratne Dilshan would be handy. So would some pace bowling options, given that ankle surgery on Lasith Malinga has suddenly put his World Cup in a little doubt. If they can find a solution to the absence of Sachithra Senanayake that would soothe some fears too.

The hosts will have similar areas of their squad they will look at. MS Dhoni is sitting this one out – if anyone deserves a break in international cricket, it is the India captain. Virat Kohli steps in, with some form behind him as well.

They have options for partners to Shikhar Dhawan at the top, but they need to settle between Ajinkya Rahane or Rohit Sharma. In Australian conditions, they will need a third paceman to back up Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammad Shami.

Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma are all options; this series, presumably, will give them an idea of the two they might take.

Otherwise, in every sense of it, this is business as usual.

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Published: November 1, 2014 04:00 AM


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