India can match the best in days to come

Published: Thursday, November 10, 2005, 16:42 [IST]
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Colombo:Sri Lanka has hit the ground with a thud. Only when I was envisaging the return to form of our team, India has crushed the uprising with a heavy hand. Frankly, Sri Lanka has notlooked in the same league.

Instead of Lanka in its present mess, it would interest me how the rising power of India would match up to the best in days to come. India are approaching basics as Australians do and that is to attack at all costs. The aggression is being backed with good skills.

Presently, the Indians have managed to unnerve the Sri Lankans, made them blink. If they could do it to a Glenn McGrath or Brett Lee; Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist, cricket as a sport will go a notch higher. Now even fielding does not look their soft spot.

In months to come, India could bridge the gap even more rapidly. Greg Chappell has practically built alternative for every spot. Instead of 11, India now have 22 players to choose from. As I hear names of VRV Singh and Piyush Chawla, it seems there is no let-up in experiments yet.

Interestingly, Australians are not doing the same. The nucleus of their side is still the same old faces. These men have been irrepressible gladiators but already in their 30s.

If in two years time they lose their edge, Australia could have a problem on hand. The new faces we see in their side from time to time have not looked exceptional.

Still, I would have preferred if India had cushioned their fast bowling department better in the Rajkot game. Instead of both Rudra Pratap Singh and Shreesanth playing, I would have opted for one, buffering them with Irfan Pathan and Ajit Agarkar. It can be dangerous if you bring a callow youth to an adults' fiesta, unattended. A mauling could scar him for life.

Not that I did not like the look of these two young men. For the second game running, RP Singh with his high arm action has managed lift from most docile strips. He did it as firstchange in case you missed the point.

Along with the high action, the positioning of his wrist has been critical as he continuously strives to hit the deck. He would not be a typical slithering left-arm pacer and that's a good deviation to have from a Irfan Pathan.

Shreesanth, I am told is not the fastest in India and that's a surprise. He works up a tidy pace and despite being hit for a few fours in this game, is largely accurate. His bristling run-up helps in keeping a batsman honest.

It's not easy to bowl with a 6-3 field amidst restriction of opening overs for there is simply no margin of error. It's doubly joyous for it has been done with aggression as if the handicaps of a batting pitch, restricted and lopsided field have not mattered.

Practically every game in this series has thrown up new heroes for India. A Dhoni, Harbhajan, Pathan, Tendulkar, Ghambir, Dravid, Raina, Kartik, Agarkar have all struttedtheir stuff in the series.

In Rajkot, it was the turn of RP Singh, Yuvraj and Mohammad Kaif. Yuvraj in this game was at his stylish best. If earlier he was coming down to spinners to lift them, he is nowadvancing and driving them and picking gaps at will. He seems to have made a huge technical advance in his game.

Only a Sehwag puzzle has not been solved. This man has so much charm at the crease that even hard nuts like us are willing to ignore his run of poor scores. He is still smacking the bowlers and dismissing them as if in nets before something snaps in him in 30s and 40s. I wonder if it is concentration.

I suffered a similar malaise at one stage of my career as regular 30s and 40s were not converted. I came out of the trough by telling myself to concentrate harder in that spell.It was criminal to waste good starts and I did not want the hard work to go to seeds.

I am sure it is also hurting Sehwag. He has a unique quality which I had also noticed in Kaluwitharana. They smacked fours without resorting to hitting the ball over the top.

Most of their fours are grounded shots. It's a dangerous and rare quality for you are destructive without appearing too adventurous.

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