Colombo: Unless the West Indies upset Sri Lanka on Saturday, Team India shouldn’t have problems making next week’s tri-series final. Rahul Dravid, of course, is already planning for yet another face-off with the hosts.
Having lost both league matches against Sri Lanka, strategy definitely needs a review. And, for ideas, the captain has borrowed the acclaimed The Art of Strategy (English version of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War) from the elegant Ms Nirupama Rao, India’s high commissioner here.
“I’m not sure when Dravid will finish reading, but he’s welcome to take it home,” Ms Rao told The Telegraph at a reception she hosted for our cricketers and the touring Media, on Friday evening, at India House.
Knowing Dravid, much of the book could be gone through overnight.
While it’s unlikely that strategy is going to come into play in a big way in the last league match (versus the West Indies), on Sunday, the composition of the XI that afternoon may be forehead-creasing.
According to well-placed sources, it’s as good as confirmed that Anil Kumble will finally play. However, nobody is sure whether his inclusion is going to be at the expense of a seamer ' thus far, it has been a 3-1 attack ' or a batsman.
Earlier in the day, after three hours of nets at the NCC ground, coach Greg Chappell declared: “We’re in the process of getting better... It’s about confidence... Winning requires practice and, hopefully, our most perfect game will be in the final...”
He reiterated his keenness to give “everybody” at least one match. Slotting Jai Prakash Yadav, though, could be difficult. In any case, as reported in these columns, Yuvraj Singh and Zaheer Khan are available for selection.
“It’s good to try options, for one never knows when an option can come in handy... However, Sourav (Ganguly) and Veeru (Virender Sehwag) are again going to open,” Chappell informed. Not that there was uncertainty over the openers.
Incidentally, during the high commissioner’s reception, Chappell spoke of the anguish when Team India appeared to give up in the mind well before Mahela Jayawardene and Upul Chandana actually pulled it off on Wednesday.
“The losses to Pakistan, at the end of last season, have dented confidence... A team used to winning wouldn’t have given up, but our body language suggested something else... We first lost the match in the mind... That hurt me and, I believe, It has hurt the players...” he said.
Chappell remains convinced there are positives even in defeat. The jury is out on whether the lessons have been learnt.