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India has produced great all-round team effort

Sri Lanka need urgent reform in weak domestic first-class system

Gulf News

We all knew India were the dominant team going into this three-match series and they have shown just how strong they are in the first two games, wrapping up the series in an emphatic and impressive manner.

India are deserving of their No. 1 ICC Test ranking right now. They have been carefully and intelligently rebuilding their team for the past few years and that vision and strong decision-making is now bearing fruit.

In this series they have been doing the basics brilliantly. Their batsmen have capitalised on winning the toss and have piled up huge first innings totals. They have been backed up by strong bowling and fielding. It’s been a great all-round team effort.

They have been tactically shrewd and they have the resources to execute those game plans. As mentioned several times, their ability to play with a 6-5 combination is extremely advantageous to India, providing Virat (Kohli) with lots of variety and options.

They will be going into this final Test in Pallekele full of confidence. I am sure Virat will be warning of complacency and urging his players to be ruthless. They will want a 3-0 clean sweep, which will be a great achievement in an overseas Test series.

Sri Lanka, meanwhile, have their backs to the wall. They were aware that this was going to be a tough series and that they needed to play exceptionally well to put India under pressure. Unfortunately, things have not gone their way.

A big concern for me is our first innings performance with the bat. In Test cricket you have to be able to put big runs on the table in the first innings. In both Tests, though, we have put ourselves under pressure and have spent the rest of the game playing catch-up; that is a very hard thing to do.

I think they’ll also look back with the benefit of hindsight and ask whether they selected the right bowling combination at SSC. They knew they needed to do something different to take 20 wickets and they decided on a three-pronged spin attack.

I have no issues with that. They needed to take a risk and this strategy was a clear option. But I don’t think two orthodox left-arm spinners was the way to go. I would have preferred the third spinner to be Sandakan with left-arm wrist spin, or a leg-spinner. You need the variety to take wickets.

For this final game we now don’t have Rangana (Herath) either and that is a big loss. I would imagine they have to look at two pace bowlers given the extra bounce and movement that is often available in Pallekelle. They will then need to choose the best part for Dilruwan Perera.

I hope the Sri Lankan boys are able to stay positive despite all the pressures on them. They are talented and they need to go out there and play with freedom and aggression. At the end of the day, it’s not their fault that we have a weak domestic first-class system in Sri Lanka that needs urgent reform.

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SPORT PICTURE OF THE DAY: August 22, 2017


Manchester City's English midfielder Raheem Sterling (2L) scores his team's first goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Everton at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester.

AFP