Sunday, November 15, 2009

India will try to bounce back

India will try to bounce back to winning ways when they take on SL in the first match of a three-Test series starting on Monday.

For this to happen, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men would have to switch into the Test mode from the more frenetic one-day frame of mind when they go into the first Test at the Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium in Motera.

The Indian team has had a non-stop dish of limited-over cricket, 50-over and Twenty20, over the last six months and played their last Test series against New Zealand in March-April early this year.

The Indian middle order has been bolstered by the return of Test specialists Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, who were not part of the squad that lost to Australia after squandering a 2-1 lead by losing the next three matches in-a-row.

Both Dravid and Laxman, especially the former, are coming into the match on the back of some good displays in the Ranji Trophy and would be eager to hit the straps.
The Indian top order functioned in fits and starts in the one-day rubber against the Aussies with swashbuckling opener Virender Sehwag playing all-too-brief cameos.
The home team would be looking forward to the Delhi dasher taming the vastly inexperienced Sri Lanka bowling with his partner Gautam Gambhir.

The match also is a landmark for Sachin Tendulkar as he steps into his 21st year in international cricket.

With a strong sense of history he would be keen as ever to make the Test another occasion to remember.

Incidentally, it was at this ground that Sunil Gavaskar became the first man to complete 10,000 Test runs against Pakistan in March, 1987 and Kapil Dev overhauled Richard Hadlee's record to become the highest wicket taker in Tests against Sri Lanka in February, 1994.

The return of the experienced Zaheer Khan from a five-month injury lay-off has also boosted India's hopes against the Lankans who are determined to set right their winless Test record in this country in 14 previous attempts, that includes eight defeats.

Khan has showed he has recovered well from his shoulder injury by bowling long spells in Ranji Trophy for Mumbai and also taking wickets.

His presence should also boost the confidence of Ishant Sharma who did not have the guidance of the experienced left-arm pacer for a long time and has seen his form dip.
The presence of S Sreesanth, recalled to the team for the first time since April, 2008, as the third seamer in the squad would also perk up the gangling Sharma, who is expected to share the new ball with Khan in the series opener.

India are likely to go into the match with two spinners. Harbhajan Singh would be the first choice and the other would be a choice between Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha.
The hosts do not have a great memory of their last Test here, when they were skittled in 20 overs for a paltry 76 after opting to bat first in the first session of play by the South African fast bowlers in April 2008.

They went on to lose the Test by an innings and 90 runs, their worst defeat at home in nearly half a century.

India's overall record in Tests played at this stadium is three victories, two losses and four draws in nine matches since 1983.

More importantly they have beaten Lanka by big margins on both the occasions previously at this venue ? by an innings and 17 runs in 1994 and by 259 runs in December, 2005.

Sri Lanka, who have come here boosted by back-to-back Test series wins over New Zealand and Pakistan at home, would also fancy their chances if the track takes spin early with the presence of three tweakers including the world's leading Test wicket taker Muttiah Muralitharan in their ranks.

The previous Test series between the two countries was dominated by unorthodox slow bowler Ajantha Mendis with his carom balls but since then Dhoni and his men seem to have found a way to play the bowler well, at least in ODIs.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Cricket dismissed reports of apprehensions concerning their team's safety during the ongoing India tour, saying they did not lodge any complain against the security arrangements made by the Indian authorities.

"There has been no complain as such about lack of security," Additional CEO of Sri Lanka Cricket Ajit Jayasekera told PTI.

"The Sri Lankan security expert Lawrence Fernando has been in India for more than two weeks to review the security.

He will review the ground situation again and accordingly inform the Indian authorities about what measures to take," he added.

Asked about the complain, the Indian Cricket board said there was no such report with them and declined to comment any further.

"The report is not with us. You ask the Lankan manager," BCCI CAO Ratnakar Shetty said.

Sri Lanka is currently in India to play three Tests, five one-dayers and two Twenty20 matches.
Approaching milestones:

- Sachin Tendulkar requires 39 runs to complete 30,000 runs in international cricket, the break-up being 12,773 in Tests, 17,178 in ODIs and 10 in Twenty20 Internationals.

- Tendulkar (99), in case posts a fifty, would be completing 100 fifties in First-class cricket.

- In case of a win, Sri Lanka would be recording their first Test win against India in India. They have lost eight and drawn the remaining six.

- Tendulkar, with just one wicket, can complete his 200 wickets in international cricket, the break-up being 44 in Tests, 154 in ODIs and 1 in Twenty20 Internationals.

- In case of a win by India, they would be enjoying a hat-trick of wins against Sri Lanka at Ahmedabad, having won by an innings and 17 runs in 1993-94 and by 259 runs in 2005-06.

- Muttiah Muralitharan (88) needs 12 wickets more to become the first bowler to take 100 wickets against India.

Ground Records:

First Test: India vs West Indies, November 12-16, 1983
Last Test: India vs South Africa, April 3-5, 2008

First ODI: India vs Australia, October 5, 1984
Last ODI: England vs West Indies, October 28, 2006

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