It’s true that every team does go through a rough patch or a rebuilding phase as one may say. But, the rate at which they regenerate and rebuild is what matters. And one wouldn’t be wrong in saying that Sri Lanka’s transformation has taken too long without much of a success. Since the retirement of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan, Sri Lanka have not been able to inspire similar confidence, which they did a few years back. Although Rangana Herath has done well after Muttiah Muralitharan as a spinner, but nothing of substance from the rest.
One wouldn’t be wrong in saying that for this Sri Lankan side, a defeat has become a norm while a win has become an anomaly. A drawn game is almost like a moral victory, such has been the shambolic state of Sri Lanka, especially in Test cricket. There have been some occasional sparks of brilliance, but nothing of substance for a longer period of time.
Also, Sri Lanka have been trying to scout for quick solutions and has played several debutants in the recent times across formats. There is no certainty, even for the players and the axe is always looming over them, which is bad. It’s painful to even pen this down, but a team, that was a powerhouse once is now fading away into the wind.
Sri Lanka has been a hub to some legends of the game, but the current side lacks that quality. Although there are few talented and proven names in Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal and Herath, but the future looks grim. Winning a Test match in Sri Lanka used to be a herculean task before, but this is not the case anymore. India’s convincing win in the Island nation a few months back is a testament to it.
Although they did well against Pakistan in the UAE, but can’t afford to let the momentum drift away just like that. A lot has been spoken about India’s dominance in the ongoing series, but one just can’t deny the fact that Sri Lanka were mediocre on the field too. Except for the first innings at Eden Gardens, Sri Lanka were below par on every single occasion. If one introspects, India were put on to bat on a green wicket with overcast conditions at Eden Gardens, where their batting floundered.
One can only imagine the kind of damage Indian seamers would have inflicted had Sri Lanka batted first on that wicket. Expectations rose from that innings, with Sri Lanka getting a healthy lead, only to fizzle out in the second. In fact, India came close to winning the game in the final session but missed out by a whisker.
At Nagpur, Sri Lanka were thrashed by an innings and 239 runs, a record defeat and one can expect similar things to happen in Delhi as well unless Sri Lanka spring a surprise. The Nagpur encounter was a one-way traffic and this one too is turning out to be no different.
Matches like these won’t generate any interest in the minds of cricket fans. Sri Lanka have failed to compete in all the three departments. Their bowling has hardly challenged the Indian batsmen while their batting has been poor. Indian batsmen dominated Sri Lanka’s bowling.
Murali Vijay and Virat Kohli scored a century and a double ton respectively. In fact, Kohli’s staggering strike rate is a testament to how well India batted in the innings. Kohli has already scored two double tons in the series. In fact, he has two double tons and a century in last four innings against Sri Lanka. By saying this, no credit is being taken away from the Indian skipper, but the rate at which he has achieved it, speaks about the ineffectiveness of the Sri Lankan bowlers.
Vijay scored a comeback ton in Nagpur and had no problems whatsoever in doing the same at Delhi. With the bat, their top-order once again floundered only to be steadied by Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal. The Sri Lankan skipper has fought his battle hard and so did Mathews, but need other characters to step up. Although Sri Lankan coach Nic Pothas is confident that matches against a top side like India will help them identify the right characters, but Sri Lanka does need to raise the bar.
The longest format of the game is called Test cricket for a reason, it’s a true test of individual’s calibre, his skills, his temperament and his potential. It’s not easy to succeed at this level. Legends are born here, careers are made and destroyed here. Sri Lanka need men to evolve from series like this. A fight is what needed from them at the moment.
It’s true that India and Sri Lanka have played a lot of cricket between them in the recent times, which has perhaps, affected the excitement. But Sri Lanka’s inability to compete has had a huge role to play in this. The contests will undoubtedly be more exciting and intriguing if Sri Lanka does put up the fight like they famously did at Galle in 2015 and in the ICC Champions Trophy encounter earlier this year. With Sri Lanka having a huge trail in the first innings, it will be interesting to see if they rise from the Ashes or continue their terrible run.