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Paper tigers abroad

Paper tigers abroad
Highlights

A vastly superior cricketing team like India has been made to wait for too long by Sri Lanka, which has cast a spell that seems to be hanging like the Damocles Sword for over 22 years.

This was not the first time that such a catastrophe has befallen Team India. As things stand, this may not be the last, notwithstanding the bravado of Ravi Shastri

A vastly superior cricketing team like India has been made to wait for too long by Sri Lanka, which has cast a spell that seems to be hanging like the Damocles Sword for over 22 years. The grotesque manner the team surrendered in the first Test is reason enough to cry foul over the ‘strong line-up,’ which committed a hara-kiri that can neither be forgiven nor forgotten.

This was not the first time that such a catastrophe has befallen Team India. As things stand, this may not be the last, notwithstanding the bravado of Ravi Shastri, whose survival as Director is likely to come under scanner even if India bounces back in the second Test beginning on Thursday.
Ironically, Virat Kohli has not won a single Test from the four he has captained, till date. The scars will serve as constant reminders that when it comes to enigmatic collapses, Indian batsmen have become as notoriously unpredictable as the Pakistanis. It would be a sign of maturity if Indians shun mundane excuses like “they enjoyed home advantage,” because this is precisely where India’s strength has been all along – getting egged on by a partisan crowd on home soil.
Otherwise, despite having achieved the top position in all formats of the game, Indians remain paper tigers abroad, a fact that stood exposed by a minnow like Zimbabwe not long ago. Never the kind to learn from past mistakes, the selectors took two steps backward while brining in old warhorse Harbhajan Singh for the Lanka tour.
That he is past his prime was evident in the Galle Test, where spinners of the calibre of Rangana Herath and Ravichandran Ashwin weaved magic but the Sardar picked just one wicket in the two innings that he bowled. Even as the decisive next match is round the corner, Shastri has reiterated that there would be no change in either the playing style or approach to the game.
He would do well if he takes a positive cue from the utterances of Sunil Gavaskar, who has called upon the team to focus on winning matches rather than getting carried away by words like “aggression and attitude.” This becomes even more pronounced considering that India will be without the services of the swashbuckling in-form opener Shikhar Dhawan, although Murali Vijay could bring in the solidity that India so desperately needs, at this point in time.
Irrespective of which way the match goes eventually, it will be etched in memory for reasons that are purely emotional and sentimental to not only the Sri Lankans but to the cricketing fraternity as a whole. One of the finest cricketers ever to grace the world stage, Kumar Sangakkara, would surely be hoping that his swan-song would turn out to be the proverbial last hurrah that comes laced with poetic justice – a series clincher, which is what his determined teammates will hope to gift him as a thanksgiving gesture.

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