Sri Lanka = Dam + Bull(a) at Dambulla for India

Written by: Sunil Vasudeva
Published: Tuesday, July 20, 2004, 16:58 [IST]
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There is an Indian saying: "Apnee Galli Mein Kutta Bhi Sher Hota Hai." In their match against the Indians, the Sri Lankans gave their opponents that timely reminder while exposing the rust spots in the Indian armour. And believe me, the rust spots were plenty! The Sri Lankan batting was like a Dam against the Indian bowling and they were like a Bull to contend with when bowling against the Indian batting matador.

The Indians cannot envision being the number two team in the realm of world cricket if they cannot come out of the gate blasting on all cannons like the Aussies do. The encounter against UAE was almost reminiscent of the India Vs Holland World Cup match! Besides Dravid's hundred, only Ganguly did anything of substance. Kaif provided a late flurry and then, thankfully, the bowlers were upto task and did the rest. The rest were truly "at rest" instead of in motion.

The Aussies are brash and rude. However, one cannot help but be in awe of their ruthless efficiency. They truly deserve the number one spot in both forms of the game. And for the Indians to be number two means that once the gates are flung open they should come bounding in like a true race horse and not limping out of the gates hoping for a timely crutch to show up (in this case Dravid in both matches). Let me ask, who says Dravid is not One-day quality?

When one hears a bowler from the UAE saying that bowling to Tendulkar was no problem, that means for India - it is a big problem! There was a time when Tendulkar's wicket was a prized scalp at both levels of the game. Tendulkar says he's not rusted out. But, what is the evidence showing? Now adays, it's Dravid's wicket that is prized! In all fairness though, Tendulkar did save himself more blushes by taking 3-21 off his four overs.

Poor Viru! No double-centuries here. Just because he notches a triple hundred in a Test match does not make him automatically eligible for a 200 in ODIs. This intense focusing on personal milestones tends to blur one's vision to the greater picture.

Was it a mistake not to have Sehwag open against the Sri Lanka? We'll never know. But one thing is for sure, when Viru came to bat against Sri Lanka, only 3.5 overs had elapsed, still giving him plenty of opportunity to tally a big score, even a 200 if he wanted it. The icing on the ache for India was to see Zaheer Khan get injured all over again! However, there was some relief in the form of Anil Kumble who inflicted two spectacular run outs.

Now that the gates at the start have been flung open and the Indian horse is off to a stuttering start, will it win the Asia Cup? It all depends on how they do down the course now that their inadequacies have been exposed beyond a shadow of doubt.

Atapattu and crew pretty much said the same through their polished performance. Now the big question that faces the Indians is: "Are we really a 'no problem to defeat' side or are we serious contenders for the number two spot in the cricket world?" If the latter is true, then you've got your work cut out for you.

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