At the end of the tri-series in Sri Lanka we stand exactly where we ended last season. While we can feel happy to have found a few good youngsters who did reasonably well in the tournament, there was hardly any change in our pattern of play at the Premadasa stadium on Tuesday. The Indians once again flattered to deceive and lost yet another final.
Perhaps, the time has finally arrived for Greg Chappell to come to terms with the realities of Indian cricket. Now that his honeymoon period as national coach has almost come to an end, I hope Greg has factored in the act of professionalism in the Indian context, which is different from Australian ways.
On Tuesday, the soft dismissal of Yuvraj Singh, followed by the fall of Rahul Dravid's wicket became the turning point of the match. The wicket had very little for the batsmen to worry about and both Yuvraj and Rahul were cruising well towards the target. What looked more heartening was that the two batsmen were having little trouble in playing Muralitharan. But once the situation changed, the Lankans grabbed the initiative.
The Indian bowling did not rise to the expected level and a section of the cricket management must be toying with the idea of changing and chopping and bringing in a new crop of fast bowlers to strengthen the department. To my mind, it won't be a good idea to go with. We have already invested a lot on these bowlers and throwing someone out of the team would not solve the problem. Rather, the team management should work to rectify the mistakes of these bowlers and pursue them to achieve new standards.
Zaheer Khan certainly disappointed me. By now, he should be leading the pack from the front. Instead, he revived memories of the dreadful World Cup final.
Ashish Nehra stood tall among wickets. I remember Nehra taking six wickets in the World Cup against England. He repeated his show on Tuesday and was effective as an individual bowler, but his effectiveness to the team still remains unanswered.
In between, Nehra suffered quite a few downslides in his career, but now he should be careful enough not to lose his grip over things. Unfortunately, Anil too had a bad day at a crucial time.
Mahinder Singh Dhoni is one more player who must have learned a lot of things from this tour. So far he was being shuffled around in the first three batting slots. Now that he has been sent to number six, he is expected to withstand the pressure, chase runs and perform the winning way. Dhoni should realise one thing clearly: to stay and survive in international cricket he should adapt himself to pressure situations. Actually, he should learn to enjoy this pressure and perform accordingly.
As I look back at the end of the tournament, I feel happy for those youngsters, like Venugopal Rao and Raina, who played their roles well for the team. The irony, however, is that none of them could play in the final. But I am sure these young boys will work themselves to become part and parcel of the Indian squad in the near future.