|India vs. Sri Lanka is a contest on different levels|
|by Gulu Ezekiel|
|Oct 23, 2005|
Much of the focus of the one-day series against Sri
Lanka beginning next week will undoubtedly be on
Sachin Tendulkar. He is of course used to it by now.
But being out of the international game for six months
through injury, his longest absence till now, has only
increased the appetite of Indian cricket fans. By all
accounts, Tendulkar'’s appetite has increased as well,
which is remarkable considering he has been around for
so long now.
The visit by the Lankans is their first full-fledged
tour (they return in December for three Test
matches) —since December 1997. India last visited Lanka for a full tour in 2001. Considering the
ICC'’s reciprocal programme of tours, why these two neighbouring countries have played so little cricket against each other, even
less than between India and Pakistan, is something
that the authorities need to explain.
Lanka are after all the second ranked ODI team in the
world and full of wondrously talented players.
Tendulkar had also missed the 2001 tour of Lanka.
Which means that cricket fans have been cruelly
deprived of a mouth-watering duel between one of the
greatest batsmen and bowlers in the history of
cricket. For Muthiah Muralitharan was nowhere near his
best back in 1997.
In between they have faced each
other in occasional ODIs, but not in a Test match. We
will have to wait a couple of more months for that.
Captain Rahul Dravid certainly has a challenge on his
hands and he will be hoping Tendulkar gets back into
his groove pretty quickly. The master batsman had a
quiet time in the recent Challenger one-day series.
But coach Greg Chappell feels he is peaking at the
Led by the strokeful Marvan Atapattu, the Lankans will
also be looking to pace spearhead Chaminda Vaas who
has consistently troubled the Indian batsmen. Veteran
Sanath Jayasuriya has also been a thorn in India’'s
side over the years.
Apart from the tussles on the field, the series will
also see the coaches on both sides match wits.
Remember, the Australian Tom Moody, now with Lanka was
one of the candidates for the job which eventually
went to Chappell earlier this year. That too is sure
to add spice to the series.
Of course the shadow over the entire series will be
cast by Sourav Ganguly. He will be hoping to force his
way back into the playing XI for the third game
onwards, though who he can possibly replace in a
strong batting line-up is the big question.
The Indian pace bowling department has a raw look to
it. With Zaheer Khan still on the sidelines, this
might be just the opportunity for a couple of
youngsters to stake their claim.