| Dravid is expecting seniors to
show the freshness of youngsters
India have a lot on their plate as they move to Sri Lanka for the triangular series. They have a new coach and a new captain; Sachin Tendulkar is missing and a few seniors have been asked to prove themselves all over again. Merely winning will not satisfy them. They seek a few critical answers with 2007 World Cup in mind.
It amuses me to see so much of a build up in India over the new coach Greg Chappell. Everyone expects him to conjure up miracles. Unfortunately, cricket does not work that way. A good team wins because it has worked out a good combination, its wheels are running on a good piston and engine. Just one factor is not decisive.
I have seen good teams win even when they have had a bad coach; as bad teams have lost even when a super coach has worked tirelessly. Itís a combination in the park which does the trick.
Similarly, Rahul Dravid as a new captain cannot provide all the answers straightaway. He is an experienced guy who has constantly strived to improve himself. But he will miss the experience of Tendulkar, one who not very long ago appeared to have a 99-year lease at the batting crease in the one-day context.
Dravid is expecting seniors to show the freshness of youngsters; and rookies to play with a mature head.
It is important for India to find most of these answers against the hosts in Sri Lanka for two reasons. One, they face Sri Lanka in their own group in 2007 World Cup. Two, conditions in the Caribbean are largely similar to what exist in Sri Lanka. A good performance will show them they are on the right path.
Unfortunately, it would not be easy. Sri Lanka have lost only one of their last nine games at home. In the last five years, India have won just three and lost six one-day matches in Sri Lanka. Most of Sri Lankaís top forces remain unmoved. Sanath Jayasuriya recently has not been in good touch in one-dayers but the sight of Indian bowlers nearly always gets him going.
Chaminda Vaas and Muthiah Muralidharan, as they have showed against an admittedly weak West Indies side, still retain a voracious appetite. Vaas, if fit, too is brilliant in confounding batsmen with movement either way without any discernible change in action. Not to forget Nuwan Zoysa who is as stingy as they come.
What is the best way to play them' It is something which Dravid and Chappell, and all those young and not-so-young Indian batters will have to find out themselves. Should they take them on or simply try to play out the quota of overs of Murali and Vaas' It would be dangerous to go with a pre-conceived notion.
A lot depends on the wicket, surface, conditions and the field setting. A good coach and captain should not lose sight of abetting factors.
It was only last year when I predicted that India could win the 2007 World Cup. Since then they have slipped up dramatically. Their consistency is missing and I also believe they are ageing a bit.
Look at Australia ' advancing years are asking them too a few tough questions! Not that it begs the question what VVS Laxman and Anil Kumble are doing in a one-day side. Without them India, otherwise, would have been too light on experience in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka are nearly impregnable at home because the conditions suit their composition to the hilt. At the moment, their batsmen are a little untidy but the Tests against the West Indies would ease them into a good rhythm for the triangular series. It is a good unit which would look to play to their potential against India. Somehow, it never fails to get inspired at the sight of an Indian team!