Posts Tagged cricketindia

Lankan tour is India’s most critical preparatory tour for T20 WC.

by Samir Pai

From the perspective of a cricket fan who is the true custodians of the sport, no cricket tournament, irrespective of the format, is bigger than the world cup.  This makes the 2012 T20 WC fixture at Sri Lanka, India’s biggest cricketing assignment for 2012! Considering the same, India’s tour to Sri Lanka (21st July- 7th Aug), featuring five ODIs &one T20; automatically becomes the most important preparatory tour for the India’s world cup campign.

The tour rightly involves only limited overs cricket as both cricket nations would want to use it to fine tune and prepare for the T20 world Cup in September.  This is the first time the t20 world cup comes to the Sub continent, providing India with its best chance to reclaim the world cup they first held aloft in 2007. India since 2007, especially under the leadership of Dhoni, has made huge progress into the limited over format of the game. Their record in the sub continent has been nothing short of stellar, conquering difficult citadels like beating Sri Lanka consistently in their own den.  This Lankan tour will set the tempo for India’s World Cup campaign.

 Sri Lanka walks into this tour having beaten Pakistan in both the ODI and test series! There is no hiding from the fact that their confidence would be high and they are at their strongest, playing at home the series can be expected to go right down to the wire and will provide the Indian fan a true sense of India’s form & chances, for the upcoming T20 world cup in September.

 Four critical factors that may decide the series- the form of Zaheer & Sehwag returning to the Indian team, Jayawardene’s shrewd captaincy, Malinga’s efficacy verses Indian batsmen & India’s batting line up verses Sri Lankan battery of medium pace all rounders.   India will surely be stronger than they were at their last encounter in the Asia cup with the return of Zaheer and Sehwag! Both gave strong performances at this year’s IPL & that augurs well for India’s chances. Zaheer’s efficacy & potency is best with the older ball & may be critical in crunch situations during this series. The two new balls from both ends in ODIs and how he counters that situation will be an interesting watch for cricket lovers & experts alike.  With due respect to Dilshan, the return of Jayawardene at helm of affairs means a more tactical Sri Lanka in the field! Canny tactics from the wily Lankan is expected to keep Dhoni & co on their toes at all times.  One reason why India has done well against Sri Lanka in the recent past is the ability of their batsmen in countering Sri Lanka’s biggest bowling weapon, Lasith Malinga. The likes of Kolhi, Gambhir & Dhoni play Malinga better than most and that blunts out a major force from the Lankan attack. Fascinating to watch will be if Malinga has developed a new trick against his Indian tormentors. Finally while India is expected to go in with seven specialist batsmen & four bowlers; Lankans will have the battery of medium pace all-rounders, in Perera, Mathews &  Kulasekara handling the bulk of the bowling attack. The battle between these crafty, disciplined medium pacers verses the Indian batsmen may decide the fate of the series.  From a statistical perspective the two sides have played each other 5 times in 2012, with India winning thrice, Lanka once and one match ending in tie. Based on the above a close series with India starting as favorites is the most logical call for most cricket pundits. 

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