Tag Archives: Tendulkar

The UDRS: An UnDesirable Review System

The last week of 2010 saw two interesting Test matches being played. Both of these ended in amazing results — for England and for India. England retained the Ashes with a stunning victory at the MCG and India, with a win in Durban, seemed to take a significant step towards establishing — yet again! — that they travel well these days.

But the two matches made news for another reason: The Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS).

Ricky Ponting made a mess of himself on field by arguing with umpire Aleem Dar after a UDRS decision had gone against his team! As I stated in my earlier post, in my view, if Ricky’s surname was not Ponting, but either Singh or Kumar or Khan, he would have been suspended for his totally over-the-top antics at the MCG. The over-tolerant Aleem Dar ought to have showed Ricky Ponting a red card for carrying on like a pork chop! After the over-the-top carry-on, the match referee slapped a mere fine on Ponting! Once again, we saw extreme incompetence — if not impotence — of the match referees in dealing with situations involving players from the “traditional powers” of cricket (read: Anglo-Saxon nations).

Ricky Ponting had a problem or two against the UDRS and chose a rather public and unacceptable way to demonstrate his disagreements with it.

Across the Indian Ocean and away from the MCG, Graeme Smith made a point about the UDRS to the International Cricket Council (ICC) in his post-loss press-conference. After being at the receiving end of bad decisons at crucial points in South Africa’s attempt to overhaul a victory target of 303, and without the benefit of the UDRS to fall back on, Smith complained about ICC’s inconsistency in its approach to the application of the UDRS.

Graeme Smith does have a point. The UDRS needs to be uniformly implemented. As per the current implementation of the UDRS, the host country must decide on the use of the UDRS in consultation with the visiting country. Although, South Africa was in favor of implementing the UDRS, and although South Africa could have insisted on the use of the UDRS, the UDRS was not implemented in the RSA-India series. One assumes that the BCCI, the Indian Board, which does not like the UDRS, used its financial power to muscle the UDRS out of the RSA-India Test series. Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni are not fans of the UDRS as it is implemented.

India’s only experiment with the UDRS was a bitter experience against Sri Lanka in 2008 — the team got most referral decisions wrong. The players developed a sense of extreme mistrust with the system and treated it like a hot potato. Since then, India has not used the UDRS in series in which it plays host (its prerogative) and has used its power to ensure that the UDRS has not been used in series against Sri Lanka and, now, South Africa.

In my view, a limited version of the UDRS should be uniformly employed in all series. Further, his decision should not be left to the host country or the visitors. Just as 2 on-field umpires, a match referee, a 3rd umpire and a reserve umpire are mandatory in all Test matches, the ICC should make a limited version of the UDRS compulsory for all Test matches.

So what should this new-UDRS include?

From an umpires’ point of view, the ICC should enable them to focus only the big issues. Umpires should not need to focus on things like counting balls, run outs and no-balls. Umpires already refer run-outs. The 3rd umpire should rule on no-balls and should whisper in the umpires ear to call the end of an over. These decisions should be taken away from the on-field umpires. These somewhat straight-forward decisions can and must be technology-driven and technology-assisted.

This then brings into focus “nicks” and whether a ball pitched in line in LBW decisions.

I believe “hot spot” should be used in all matches. In my view, the two dimensional technology that is used to project height, swing, spin and movement is just not believable nor trustworthy! The ICC should choose a version of UDRS (of the many that exist) and employ it for all matches.

All “nicks” (whether for detecting inside-edges in LBW decisions or for caught behind appeals) should be referred to the 3rd umpire if the on-field umpire wants seek the assistance of technology in deciding. It should be the on-field umpires’ prerogative to seek the referral. Just as it works for run outs currently, the on-field umpire will seek out technology when needed. The “hot spot” technology does work effectively and is utterly believable, in my view. The “Snickometer” technology which is also error-free takes too long to spit out results — and the game cannot be stalled for such long periods of time.

Further, the UDRS should also employ one of the many systems that can be used to detect whether a ball pitched “in line” for LBW decisions. Technology in this area is believable and accurate.

With all of the above modifications, the umpires can then save their focus on trajectory, discipline on the ground, ball changes and other such decisions; decisions that requires their judgement to be applied. The problem is then with interpretation and errors in these areas alone. One doesn’t need judgement and interpretation of whether the ball pitched in line or whether it is a no ball. A machine can predict that accurately regardless of the type of technology that’s used.

So what would a new-UDRS mean?

  • The 3rd umpire counts balls and informs the on-field umpire when it is the end of the over
  • Run outs are referred to the 3rd umpire when needed (as now).
  • Clear cases of no-balls are automatically called on the field. In borderline cases, the 3rd umpire whispers in the ear of the on-field umpire. An alternative would be to use a “cyclops” type machine to yell “NO” on the ground.
  • The 3rd umpire is called upon to use “hot spot” to detect “edges” in caught-behind, LBW and bat-pad catch appeals. The on-field umpire must request the 3rd umpire to adjudicate in these cases.
  • The 3rd umpires’ assistance should also be used in deciding whether the ball pitched impacted in line (off-stump) or pitched in line (leg-stump) in LBW appeals. Again, the on-field umpire must request the 3rd umpire to adjudicate in these cases.

And that is about all that the new-UDRS should include. The on-field umpires can then save their focus on things that need their judgement (trajectory, bounce, etc).

With these modifications I believe we will have a UDRS that is more acceptable; and one that is more widely used.

It is time for the ICC to step in and take real control of the game. At the moment, it continues to dither on most important issues affecting the game.

— Mohan

I was wrong…

There are many things I am constantly wrong about. No. I am not at Church, it is not Sunday today, and this is not a confession!

But yes, there are many things I am wrong about. Take this recently concluded Test series against Sri Lanka, for example! I was wrong about:

  • Suresh Raina’s abilities as a Test cricketer,
  • Sri Lanka being capable of producing a good Test wicket,
  • India’s cances of winning a Test in Sri Lanka in this series.

Suresh Raina did confound his critics; including me. I had branded him a ODI and T20 player and had even indicated in a post here that he had jumped the queue, ahead of players like S. Badrinath, Rohit Sharma, et al. But Suresh Raina showed enough in the few appearances he had to indicate he has the ticker, application, determination and skill to last at this level. He even negotiated the many bouncers hurled in his direction. He looked composed, compact and confident. He looked like he belongs at this level. Just on the basis of these outings, I would be happy to ink his name for quite some time at #6 in the Test batting line-up even if he fails against Australia in October and (later on in the year) against South Africa.

I was wrong about Raina…

I was wrong too about Sri Lanka’s ability to produce a good Test wicket. The wicket that was on offer at the P. Sara Oval for the 3rd Test was a Test-wicket beauty. After the flat highway that represented the 2nd Test at the SSC ground, I had all but switched off my TV set for the reminder of the Test series. This series was starting to resemble a few previous series in Sri Lanka where teams would go on to make 3597 runs for 2 declared and then the opposition would go on to make 9656 runs for 3 declared — all before Tea on day-2! You would either have that or have a situation where Muralitharan would take 20 wickets for 3 runs before Tea on day-1 on a pitch made out of un-compacted sawdust from the wood factory down the road! But the pitch that was prepared for the 3rd Test at the P Sara Oval was spot on for Test cricket. I do wish the Sri Lankan cricket Board sack Anurudda Polonowita, the curator of the SSC pitch! Even after a truck-load of runs were scored on the SSC pitch during the 2nd Test, with the loss of only a few wickets — and that too to run outs and batsmen error — the SSC curator managed to hide his head in the sand and blamed the bowlers of both teams for the dull draw in the 2nd Test! But the 3rd Test wicket offered everyone a chance — good batsmen, spinners and pace bowlers. Sri Lanka is, after all, capable of producing good Test match wickets.

I was wrong about Sri Lankan pitches…

Right from the time MS Dhoni lost the toss at the start of the 3rd Test match, I did not think India had a chance of winning the 3rd Test match. At the end of day-1, Sri Lanka was 293/4. In order for me to have India ahead at the end of the first days’ play, India needed another wicket at least and also needed to have conceded about 20 fewer runs. Although India did make inroads with the ball on day-2 and although India did get Sri Lanka all out for 425, I did think it was a good 1st innings total in the context of this wicket. India ended day-2 at 180-2, which was the only day of the Test that India ended well, in my books — apart from the last days’ ending when India had won the Test! On day-2, I had India ahead not because the team had made 180-2 (nearly 245 runs behind), which was a healthy score already. I had India ahead because these runs were secured in just 35 overs! But then the quick loss of Tendulkar and Sehwag on day-3 meant that India was again playing catch up in this game. The fact that India made more 1st Innings runs than Sri Lanka was good but in my view the slender lead wasn’t quite enough! At the end of day-3, although Sri Lanka was 45-2, I still had Sri Lanka ahead. On day-4, India had her best session of the game when the spinners wrecked the Sri Lankan batting. However, Mendis and Samaraweera ensured that Sri Lanka put up a competitive target. That and the fact that India lost 3 wickets for not much meant that, in my books, Sri Lanka was once again ahead at the end of day-4. I thought India would not be able to pull this match off on day-5 on a pitch that was deteriorating. I did not expect India to win in the end.

I was wrong…

In the end, this was an amazing come-from-behind win for Team India — one that this team can take a lot of pride in. Perhaps this will not be an automatic inclusion choice in the “Great Indian Test Victories” DVD compilation. This compilation would automatically include Kolkata, Leeds, Adelaide, Multan or Perth — great victories in the annals of Indian circket history. However, taken in the context of the personnel that MS Dhoni had at his disposal, I would happily vote for placing “Colombo (P Sara), 2010” alongside famous Indian victories in the recent decade.

To me this big-list list reads: Kolkata 2001 (v Australia), Leeds 2002 (v England), Adelaide 2003 (v Australia), Multan 2004 (v Pakistan), Sabina Park 2006 (v West Indies), Johannesburg 2006 (v South Africa), Perth 2008 (v Australia), Mohali 2008 (v Australia), Chennai 2008 (v England), Colombo (P Sara) 2010 (v Sri Lanka).

I say this because India achieved this victory without a first-XI opening batsman and 3 of its four strike bowlers. Let us not forget that Zaheer Khan, Sreesanth, Harbhajan Singh and Gautam Gambhir were absent from the team that secured this victory. Yes, we might point to the fact that the team did still have great players like Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, MS Dhoni, et al. However, the best batsmen are rendered useless by un-tested bowlers. In this context, the P. Sara victory is an important one for India. The team showed that it can still do it despite ruthless depletions to the team sheet.

As a Team India fan, the future is, still, a worry for me.

I do not worry too much about the day when Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman will, inevitably, exit stage-left! When Rahul Dravid got out in the 1st Innings of the 3rd Test, Tony Greig, who was commentating at the time, emotionally appealed for Cheteshwar Pujara to be inked into the team sheet immediately! I am confident Pujara will wear a Team India cap one day. Just as night follows day, for me, Pujara has his named etched on a Team India spot already. However, he will wait his time till when Dravid hangs up his boots. Like Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble, the other two members of the Fab-Five, I am confident that Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman will chose the timing of their exit appropriately. These are some of the most upright Team India sportspeople of our times; a time dominated by Commonwealth Games scandals and 83-year-olds being elected to the Presidency of a national sports body! The Fab-Five stand tall and stand in a separate playing field altogether in an Indian sports space dominated by sleaze, money and power politics.

But when the remaining members of the Fab-Five do exit the scene, I am confident that in Cheteshwar Pujara, M Vijay, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Sourabh Tiwary, S. Badrinath, Abhinav Mukund, Ajinkya Rahane, et al, India has the batting personnel to step into their big shoes. Pujara will never be a Dravid, just as Dravid was never a Mohinder Amarnath or a Dilip Vengsarkar. Similarly, Suresh Raina will never be a Sourav Ganguly. Rohit Sharma will never be a Sachin Tendulkar. But I believe that Cheteshwar Pujara, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, M. Vijay, Abhinav Mukund, et al, will carve their own stellar paths just as the Fab Four did when they built their careers.

What worries me most as a Team India fan is the bowling resources. Bowlers keep breaking apart at the seams. Bowlers that burst onto the scene with much promise and fan-fare vanish a few seasons later. Witness the decline of Ishant Sharma, Irfan Pathan, RP Singh, Munaf Patel, Sreesanth, VRV Singh, Pankaj Singh, Dhawal Kulkarni, et al. Will we add Abhimanyu Mithun to the above list in a year from now? This is certainly a worry for me. Mind you, the spin options are just not good enough for me either.

So it is the bowling and not the batting that is a worry to me as a Team India fan.

However, just as I was wrong with a few things in this recently concluded Test series against Sri Lanka, I hope I am able to point to a future Team India bowling attached and say again: “I was wrong…”

— Mohan

Sachin – the next big celeb on Twitter

Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) is now on Twitter, and if you haven’t already heard about it, where have you been hiding? There are tweets, blogs, text messages, news paper articles, etc that have been announcing this. And already the number of people following him has hit close to 150,000.

I am not sure this will have the same effect that Oprah Winfrey had on Twitter when she joined (I think something like 1.2 Million people joined Twitter that day), but as far as Indian celebrities go, SRT on Twitter is *big*. I may be wrong, but I think SRK (@iamsrk) is the Indian celeb with the most followers currently, and Sachin should be able to go past him quite easily.

If you are on Twitter, though and love Indian cricket, there are quite a few others from the current team you can follow –

There are probably a few more Indian cricketers, but the one that created the most controversy in Indian cricket with his tweets, Lalit Modi, has quite a few followers. You can read his tweets here -  http://twitter.com/LalitKModi

But be aware that there is no way of determining if all the celebs in Twitter are the real deal or some impersonator. Contrary to what some people believe, Dhoni doesn’t tweet (although there are 4 people claiming to be him)

There are heaps of international cricketers who blog (from Mark Boucher to Darren Gough), but if I were to pick just a couple of colourful personalities to follow, then I would go with these two:

Oh, and just for the record, you can follow i3j3 bloggers too 🙂 –

-Mahesh-

Sachin Tendulkar Quotes…

I got this sent to me by a friend.

————————————————————————

“I have seen god, he bats at no. 4 for India.”– Mathew Hayden

“Nothing bad can happen to us if we’re on a plane in India with Sachin Tendulkar on it.” – Hashim Amla, the South African batsman, reassures himself as he boards a flight.

“Sometimes you get so engrossed in watching batsmen like Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar that you lose focus on your job.”– Yaseer Hameed in pakistani ne wspaper.

“To Sachin, the man we all want to be.”– Andrew Symonds wrote on an Aussie T-shirt he autographed specially for Sachin.

“Beneath the helmet, under that unruly curly hair, inside the cranium, there is something we don’t know, something beyond scientific measure. Something that allows him to soar, to roam a territory of sport that, forget us, even those who are gifted enough to play alongside him cannot even fathom. When he goes out to bat, people switch on their TV sets and switch off their lives.”– BBC on Sachin

“Tujhe pata hai tune kiska catch chhoda hai?”– Wasim Akram to Abdul Razzaq when the latter dropped Sachin’s catch in 2003 WC.

“Sachin is a genius. I’m a mere mortal.”– Brian Charles Lara

“We did not lose to a team called India …we lost to a man called Sachin.”– Mark Taylor, during the test match in Chennai (1997)

“The more I see of him the more confused I’m getting to which is his best knock.”– M. L. Jaisimha

“The joy he brings to the millions of his countrymen, the grace with which he handles all the adulation and the expectations and his innate humility – all make for a one-in-a-billion individual,”– Glen McGrath

“I can be hundred per cent sure that Sachin will not play for a minute longer when he is not enjoying himself. He is still so eager to go out there and play. He will play as long as he feels he can play,”– Anjali Tendulkar

Interviewer Question: “Who do you think is the most important celebrity in India?”
Shah Rukh Khan: “There was a big party where stars from bollywood and cricket wer e invited. Suddenly, there was a big noise, all wanted to see approaching Amitabh Bachhan. Then Sachin entered the hall and Amitabh was leading the queue to get a grab of the GENIUS!”
– Shah Rukh Khan in an interview.

“India me aap PrimeMinister ko ek Baar Katghare me khada kar sakte hain..Par Sachin Tendulkar par Ungli nahi utha Sakte.. “– Navjot Singh Sidhu on TV

“He can play that leg glance with a walking stick also.”– Waqar Younis

“Sachin Tendulkar has often reminded me of a veteran army colonel who has many medals on his chest to show how he has conquered bowlers all over the world. I was bowling to Sachin and he hit me for two fours in a row. One from point and the other in between point and gully. That was the last two balls of the over and the over after that we (SA) took a wicket and during the group meeting I told Jonty (Rhodes) to be alert and I know a way to pin Sachin. I delivered the first ball of my next over and it was a fuller length delevery outside offstump. I shouted ‘catch’. To my astonishment the ball was hit to the cover boundary. Such was the brilliance of Sachin. His reflex time is the best I have ever seen. Its like 1/20th of a sec. To get his wicket better not prepare. Atleast you wont regret if he hits you for boundaries.– Allan Donald

“On a train from Shimla to Delhi , there was a halt in one of the stations. The train stopped by for few minutes as usual. Sachin was nearing century, batting on 98. The passengers, railway officials, everyone on the train waited for Sachin to complete the century. This Genius can stop time in India!”– Peter Roebuck – Aussie journalist

“Sachin cannot cheat. He is to cricket what (Mahatma) Gandhiji was to politics. It’s clear discrimination.”– NKP Salve, former Union Minister when Sachin was accused of ball tempering

“There are 2 kind of batsmen in the world. One Sachin Tendulkar. Two all the others.”– Andy Flower

“Commit all your sins when Sachin is batting. They will go unnoticed because even GOD is watching.”– A hoarding in England

“Don’t go into competition without training your mind and your body, relaxation for the mind and insanity workout for the body.” – Unknown

“Even my father’s name is Sachin Tendulkar.”– Tendulkar’s daughter, Sara, tells her class her father’s name after the teacher informs them of a restaurant of the same name in Mumbai.

Ton-dulkar

Isn’t it amazing? Nearly one of out every nine times, Sachin Tendulkar goes out to bat in ODIs, he scores a century (9.36 times if you want it to be accurate). His record is even better in Tests – he scores a hundred every 6th time he bats. He holds most of the batting records in both Tests and ODIs – most ODI hundreds, most Test hundreds, most runs in Tests, most runs in ODIs, just to name a few.

Now, he becomes the first to break the 200 run barrier in ODIs. Some of his records may never get broken, but I think this one will – probably a lot sooner than people think. Still, there is something about getting there first that fascinates people. Like a Roger Bannister breaking the 4-minute barrier or a Neil Armstrong being the first man on the moon. Tendulkar has several firsts to his name that people will talk about and celebrate.

But, what I find fascinating is that even after playing cricket for 20 years and when most people his age would be thinking about retirement, he seems to have a new found hunger. In the last 12 months in ODIs, he has scored 1158 runs at an average of 72.37. In this period, he has also scored four hundreds in 19 outings (he would have scored 5 if he wasn’t stranded on 96 against Sri Lanka a few months back). And all his hundreds have been big ones – a 163* against NZ, a 138 against SL, a 175 against Australia and now 200* against South Africa.

His record in Test cricket has been even better. In the past 12 months, he has scored 1018 runs at an average of 78.30 in the 10 tests he has played. In the 15 outings to the crease, he has scored 6 centuries  – that makes 10 international hundred in the last 12 months.

With frequent injury and age catching up, I thought Tendulkar would never get to a hundred international hundreds in his career. But a century of century doesn’t seem impossible anymore. He is on No. 93 at the moment and another 7 to go, but at the way he is going, I think it is a distinct possibility. Now, that is a record that will be unbroken for a long time to come…

-Mahesh-

Take a bow Fab Five… Team India is the #1 Test Team

Some 10 years ago, the Fab Five of Indian Cricket undertook a near-impossible journey. After the morass that represented the match fixing scandal Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman were left with the near-impossible task of reaching a near-impossible goal.

By the end of the decade, the Fab Five had reached there.

After yet another innings defeat of Sri Lanka, Team India was crowned the #1 Test Team in the ICC Rankings.

It was an amazing achievement for a bunch of committed cricketers that started on what seemed to be an impossible journey some 10 years ago. It was a burning passion for the Famous Fab Five (Ganguly, Kumble, Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman).

Today, sans Kumble and Ganguly, the team ascended to #1; albeit with help from South Africa and England who both beat Australia in the recent past. Yet, the ascent was palpably obvious. It was measured, considered, passionate and single-minded.

There have been some sensational victories along the way: From Kolkata 2001 (v Australia), Leeds 2002 (v England), Adelaide 2003 (v Australia), Multan 2004 (v Pakistan), Sabina Park 2006 (v West Indies), Johannesburg 2006 (v South Africa), Perth 2008 (v Australia), Mohali 2008 (v Australia) and Chennai 2008 (v England). It is unlikely that the Test at Mumbai at the CCI Ground against Sri Lanka will receive the exalted status and the dizzy heights of a Leeds 2002 or Perth 2008. However, it will be remembered as the Test in which India reached the #1 position.

It has been a long road to redemption. It is a moment for all Team India tragics to savour.

It will be brief — after all an Australian clean-sweep this summer or a 2-0 victory by South Africa against England will snatch this moment from India.

However, for a few good men of Indian cricket, this will be a special moment. When Anil Kumble retired he marked this moment. He will be a happy man today and so will Sourav Ganguly.

Sachin Tendulkar remembered everyone in his post match victory statement when he marked the milestones along this path. What better way to get up than stairlifts?

In his post-match interview he said, “Fantastic to be at this position. I have been waiting a long time to get to this position (No 1). In fact just not me, entire nation. I thought when Gary (Kirsten) and Paddy (Paddy Upton), along with Robin Singh and Venkatesh Prasad, all credit to them for handling the team brilliantly. Also all the players have worked very hard in the last 18 months. Right from no 1 batter to no 7 (MS bats at no 7) we have a solid batting line-up. This pitch was a brilliant wicket. There was some turn on the first day and I knew one roll would settle it down and it did.”

No mention of Greg Chappel!

Dileep Premachandran, in his excellent article, Bestautolenders.com mentions John Wright, forgotten players like Sanjay Bangar (Leeds), Irfan Pathan (Multan), Balaji (Multan) and even staff like Adrian Le Roux, Andrew Leipus, John Gloster and Greg King.

He too has ignored Greg Chappel… Perhaps the one page that some of the current crop of players will want to ignore as they trace what has indeed been a fascinating, interesting and impressive 10-year journey.

Starting from Kolkata 2001, the journey has been painful at times; it has been excting at times; it has been imperssive at times. However, I will remember the journey for the commitment, passion, dignity and focus that the Fab Five showed.

Indeed, it is this journey — and not the outcome — that I will savour for a long long time.

As for the future, who knows what will happen. However, I am comforted by MS Dhoni’s calm assurance that Team India needs to travel well to claim the legitimate top-dog position. He said, “Let’s see when we go there. We can’t play them sitting here.”

The Fab Five will exit the scene one by one. However, I am confident that when they exit stage left, Indian cricket will be in a much better position than when they found it.

Take a bow guys. This is your ascent. This is your victory and thank you for all the good memories.

India win Compaq Cup

An undercooked Team India, which was coming out of a long lay-off and with a few star players (Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Zaheer Khan) injured, won the Compaq Cup in Sri Lanka after beating the hosts in a close game in the Finals.

India’s win came on the back of Sachin Tendulkar’s 44th ODI Ton and owed thanks to Harbhajan Singh’s 3rd 5-wicket haul!

For the first time, in my view, India got her batting order right. Dinesh Karthik, who killed off his Test career on India’s last tour of Sri Lanka, probably did much the same to his ODI career in the first two games that he played in the Compaq Cup. I reiterate that I have nothing against the lad. He is a good player and more power to him. However, when it comes to crunch situations, he repeatedly fails to deliver. Prior to the start of the series, I had predicted that he would carry drinks for India. Thanks to Gautam Gambhir’s injury and Team India’s muddled thinking, Karthik was asked to open in the first two ODIs. He failed in both. Further, his batting meant that Sachin Tendulkar had to change his style of play.

In yesterdays’ game, Tendulkar opened with Rahul Dravid, whose stability allowed Tendulkar to play the way he normally does — really well and freely.

The other change that I have yelled for was for captain M. S. Dhoni to walk in at the fall of the first wicket. In yesterdays’ game, he did so and the change was remarkable. He brought a calm solidity to the batting. Although he fell just when things were starting to get interesting (when the batting PowerPlay was taken), he had built a solid foundation to India’s innings by the time he left.

In the end, thanks to that foundation, although I thought India floundered a bit between overs 40-45, the score was respectable and good.

That Sri Lanka gave that total a real shake is a credit to their emergence as a strong ODI team these days. I do like the look of the Sri Lanka team. The team has some excellent bowlers and with the rapid strides made of late by Samaraweera, Kandamby and Dilshan — not to mention his now famous DilScoop — the batting looks strong too, especially when you consider the experience provided by Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardane.

In the end, India emerged winners. The margin of victory (46 runs) might seem comfortable. However, India did have some scares, not to mention poor fielding and dropped catches. India needs to do more work in these departments before it can think of laying a fingerprint on the Champions Trophy.

However, it was nice to see Harbhajan Singh get a 5-fer with good bowling and not the spear-em-in sort that he normally resorts to in ODIs. This bodes well for India in the season ahead.

— Mohan