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    December 22, 2005

    India sneak up on daylight

    India won the final test at Ahmedabad against Sri Lanka to win the series 2-0. Harbhajan had 10 wickets for the game while Kumble finished with a 5 wicket haul in his 100th test and 20 wickets for the series. Sri Lanka lost by 259 runs, needing to score at less than 3 runs per over over 170 overs to win the game. The one-day series had earlier gone 6-1 to India.

    Sri Lanka's batting was extremely disappointing. Jayawardene scored 4 fifties in his 5 innings while Atapattu and Dilshan scored 2 each. Sangakkara got two thirties and a forty-odd. The highest score for a Sri Lankan batsman was 88. Overall, the batsmen were a joke. Samaraweera continued to show why he averages 29 away from home and 60 at home while Gunawardene showed no hint of being good enough to replace Jayasuriya. Dilshan was perhaps the lone bright spot of Sri Lanka's batting, scoring runs in just about every crisis situation. But he didn't make the big scores that Sri Lanka needed.

    Sri Lanka's second innings at Ahmedabad was their longest, lasting over 93 overs. Out of the four times they realistically got to bat, they only got past 90 overs twice. Essentially they were being bowled out in a day in all four innings. They had four collapses, from 170/2 to 230 & 100/1 to 130/6 at Delhi and 70/1 to 105/5, 80/1 to 100/4 & 200/4 to 249 at Ahmedabad. You can't win test matches when your batting is that hopeless.

    India had two centurions (Tendulkar and Laxman). Yuvraj and Pathan scored two fifties while Dravid and Dhoni scored one each. More importantly, aside from the one innings in the washout at Madras, the batsmen scored runs when it counted most. After collapsing to 290 against Murali in the first innings at Delhi, from a position of 245/3, India were 86/3 in the second innings. They ended up with 375. At Ahmedabad, the score was around 100/5 in both innings. In the first innings, India ended up with nearly 400 and in the second, declared past 300. The lower order [#7 onwards] scored 36% of India's runs, and that includes the miserable show against Murali at Delhi. Yes, that does indicate that the top order was shaky. Recovering from 100/5 was possible against a listless Sri Lankan side where Murali was clearly underperforming, possibly because of injury and definitely because of lack of support. That may not be possible against Pakistan or England, who India take on in the next three to four months.

    As a result of this series win, India leapfrogs to #2 in the standings, since England performed miserably in Pakistan. I think this is India's best ranking since the rankings were introduced. For a team which was languishing between #6 and #8 (this when Bangladesh wasn't in the list) in 2001 and 2002, it is a good turnaround. In fact, India was a mid-table team through most of 2003 and 2004. In the last one year, the side had stabilized itself in the top 3.

    Given the gap between Australia at #1 and India at #2 stands at 13 points, it is fair to say that India has not got anywhere close to Australia. Warne used to say that Tendulkar was the best and the likes of Lara and Ponting were #3, with daylight being #2. I'd say a similar logic is applicable to Australia. Hence while Australia are #1, India has merely got closer to daylight.
    Thus spake Jagadish @ 1:50 PM |
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