The first Test match between India and Sri Lanka played at the Galle International Stadium was completely overshadowed by Muttiah Muralitharan’s magical show, so much so that people even overlooked India’s dismal performance and the disappointing way that they yielded in front of the Islanders’ might.
India, remember, came to the emerald isles with the tag of the number one Test team in the world. But, the pathetic performance that they have put up in the first Test is nothing short of utter nonsense and prompts one to think if they even deserve to be the Test champions at all. Such a wretched show by a team that has been proclaimed as the numero uno not only disappoints the millions of Indian cricket fans all across the globe, but also puts a serious question mark over the world cricket governing body’s rating system.
For a batting line-up that boasts of world beaters such as the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxm
an, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni to be bowled out twice in just over two days’ time is absolutely disgraceful and unimaginable.
Consistency is one of the biggest factors for any team that hopes to be amongst the best in the world and that is where Team India disappoints the most. While the ‘Men in Blue’ on their day are capable of comfortably beating even a strong opposition like Australia in their own backyard, it is their inconsistency that will make you think twice before betting on them even against a low-rated opponent like Bangladesh.
Yes, some of the Indians’ finest pacers did break down just before the start of the series against the Lankans making the bowling attack extremely weak but the strongest batting line-up was at our disposal to counter the vicious venom spitted out by Murali, Malinga and Co. Even if our fill-in bowlers were incapable of capturing twenty Lankan wickets, which is extremely crucial when you are looking to win Test matches, it should have meant a high-scoring draw and not a depressing defeat like the one we suffered at Galle.
Electing to bat first after winning the toss, Sri Lanka, helped by fine centuries from Tharanga Parnavitana and Kumar Sangakkara, put up a massive total of 520/8 declared on the board. After the second day was completely rained-off, there were very few people who had predicted a result other than a boring draw. But, the Indians had other ideas. Not prepared to let Murali’s swansong become a dull affair, the Indians kept throwing their wickets away and folded up well before the follow-on mark.
The second innings was no different either as the batsmen yet again adopted the
tu chal main aaya approach, which led to the visitors’ huge 10-wicket loss.
With Mendis likely to come in to the side for the next game and the double ‘M’ (along with Malinga) threatening to haunt the Indians yet again, the visitors will have to pull up their socks and display some mettle that is expected of the best side in the world.
Strong teams like South Africa, Australia and even Sri Lanka are breathing down India’s neck in the Test ratings and will not take long before moving ahead in case such shoddy display continues.
The onus of proving their No.1 label will once again be on the batsmen. Let us hope that they can live up to their and the millions of cricket fans’ expectations.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)