2-1 to India and an overseas series win after a long time. Does it partially take away the horror of the 4-0 England trip and the equally horrible Australian trip?
The England trip I was lenient about. There were loads of injuries to key players and it’s England where India hasn’t done particularly well. ( Summer of 42, anyone?) Of course, Rahul Dravid made it look easy and I like him, so it was painful, but not a disaster. Australia was. Even Dravid struggled and retired. Tendulkar should have taken his cue and faded away too but went on to some excruciatingly personal matches. Laxman, failed to announce his retirement but I think he was told to please go away.
This series was a slightly weird in that it was a first full series with Virat Kohli as captain. With that came a 5-man bowling attack. Now when was the last time we saw that for an Indian Test team? Even at the height of the spin quartet, only 3 played at any given time ( mostly ) and were aided by the 2 overs from Solkar and the 10 overs from Abid Ali, making it a 3+0.5+0.1 bowling attack. Then of course we had a 4.5 bowling attack with the addition of Stuart Binny as “the half”. Will this survive?
Apart from the two sessions in which they lost the first Test, India was never in too much danger against the Sri Lankans. The SL bowling was largely dominated by Herath and Prasad. The others were not too much of a threat. Angelo Mathews underbowled himself, but he also had to prop up the batting, so maybe we can forgive him. Sangakkara did not go out with a bang, but is still a huge loss for SL. Thirimanne is always one step away from being out. Chandimal, despite his match-winnings, is always a bit of a gamble.
The Indian bowling was led by Ravi Ashwin and Ishant Sharma. When I say Ishant Sharma, though, it wasn’t the Ishant Sharma of old. This was a new, ferocious beast bearing a striking physical similarity to the Ishant Sharma Indian fans love to hate. He was so ferocious that he’s going to lose a large portion of his match fees and serve a one-Test ban. ‘swonderful!!! What exactly Harbhajan Singh is doing in this side we shall never know. Aaron needs more than speed to get people out. Umesh Yadav too. Amit Mishra played fine supporting roles with bat and ball in hand.
The Indian batting was a muddle. Why Cheteshwar Pujara sat out the first two games will remain a mystery. The injuries to Vijay and Dhawan gave him a spot he should never have lost. Rohit Sharma – the Ian Bell of India – will be loved and hated on all sides. Rahane and Pujara should be shooins to the Test side. Early days for Rahul yet, but he is looking good so far.
The Indian wicketkeeper is an area of concern. Somehow Wriddhiman Saha’s skills with the bat fail to convince despite his two fifties. Naman Ojha looks more assured, but this is something India will have to look at closely.
All in all, a good confidence booster for India. For Sri Lanka, the batting really needs to find some batsmen and take the pressure of Angelo. ( Calling him Angie just seems so wrong, somehow.)