| Sri Lanka captain Maravan Atapattu and Chaminda Vaas in Jaipur on Sunday. (AFP)
Jaipur: The Sri Lankans, perhaps, couldn’t have hoped for a better venue if they’re serious about regaining some ground lost over the first two ODIs. With tales of conquering adversity abounding in these parts, nobody has to dig deep for inspiration.
And, the Lankans do need to win match No. 3 of the Videocon Cup, at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium on Monday, if the seven-ODI series is to keep the janata at the edge of their seats.
So lopsided were the first two matches that the worth of the ICC rankings has been called into question.
The Lankans ' who haven’t played here before ' began the series at No. 2, with Team India down five positions.
While the Nagpur and Mohali performances have been uplifting, coming as they did after the image-denting spat between Sourav Ganguly and Greg Chappell as also the sorry spectacle seen at the Board’s adjourned AGM, Bishan Singh Bedi had a word of caution.
“The Lankans have played very poor cricket. So, let’s not get carried away,” the former India captain told The Telegraph.
Not that the Indians are taking the Lankans lightly. As captain Rahul Dravid explained: “To do so would be at our peril... We’ve suffered a lot at their hands.” The Lankans, in fact, beat us all three times in the July-August tri-series at home.
Coach Chappell, too, talked in much the same vein: “We’ve got to be vigilant.”
The Lankans just haven’t come to terms with arguably the finest batsman of this generation ' Sachin Tendulkar. Indeed, no cracker this Diwali is going to explode the way he has in the first two matches (93 and 70 not out).
All of Jaipur is hoping for a hattrick. The locals haven’t hosted a ODI for over six years and haven’t watched Sachin live for as many as nine. Owing to a back problem, he didn’t play the last match, which saw Pakistan win by a massive 143 runs.
“Sachin’s at the top of his form, which is why our bowlers have struggled. However, that’s not to say they have become bad,” remarked Lankan captain Maravan Atapattu.
The Lankan batting, of course, has been bad: Managing 198 in chasing 350 and, then, crashing to the lowest score in Mohali ' 122.
“Except Murali (Muttiah Muralidharan), all of us are due to perform... Hopefully, tomorrow.... We need to back ourselves and have self-belief,” Atapattu added as deputy Mahela Jayawardene spoke of the need to perform as a “group.”
After Mohali, coach Tom Moody promised a “fight.” His own reputation is on the line.
Incidentally, while the Lankans seemed a bit concerned about the cracks on the wicket, Dravid felt it would be good for batting. Assuming he wins the toss, yet again, a target is bound to be set.
Chappell, who defended the ‘experiments’ in the first two ODIs, pointed out that “options” will continue to be looked at. “Playing at home makes a difference, but we’ve been approaching the matches with strategies,” he reminded.
The “challenge,” as Dravid put it, is to be consistent.
India (from): Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Jai Prakash Yadav, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Irfan Pathan,Ajit Agarkar, Y. Venugopal Rao, Harbhajan Singh, S. Sreesanth, Murali Kartik, Suresh Raina.
Sri Lanka (from): Sanath Jayasuriya, Maravan Atapattu, Kumar Sangakkara, Upul Chandana, Mahela Jayawardene, Russel Arnold, Tillekeratne Dilshan, Fervez Mahroof, Chaminda Vaas, Lokuhettige Dilhara, Muttiah Muralidharan, Dilhara Fernando, Thilan Samaraweera, Nuwan Zoysa.
Umpires: Billy Bowden, K. Hariharan. TV: A.V. Jayaprakash.
Match Referee: Alan Hurst.
Match starts: 9 am.
The Lalit Modi-headed Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) took immediate corrective measures when Match Referee Alan Hurst expressed misgivings over the positioning of the off-the-field officials’ box ' the entire ground wasn’t visible ' and wanted a clarification over the official scorer.
It helped Modi that former Board president Inderjit Singh Bindra, an ally who oversees a fantastic job in Mohali, was around.
The RCA, meanwhile, is going to insist on being awarded a Test next year. “We can’t be deprived of our status and, if needed, we will take the Board to court,” insisted Modi, who informed he’d personally invited bete noire Jagmohan Dalmiya for Monday’s ODI.
It’s no surprise that the former ICC and BCCI president isn’t coming.
mixed luck in pink city
Of the eight ODIs staged at Jaipur’s Sawai Man Singh Stadium, India have featured in six and enjoyed only a 50 per cent success rate (won three, lost three). India’s victories have come against Pakistan, Australia and the West Indies, while they have suffered losses at the hands of England, South Africa and Pakistan. The non-India matches at this venue were during the 1987 World Cup (England vs West Indies) and 1996 World Cup (Australia vs West Indies).
The following are summaries of the eight matches:
• October 2, 1983: Pakistan 166/9 in 46 ovs (Mudassar Nazar 27, Zaheer Abbas 48; Madan Lal 3/27). India 169/6 in 40.4 ovs (Sunil Gavaskar 41, Sandeep Patil 51). India won by 4 wickets. MoM: Patil.
• October 2, 1986: Australia 250/3 in 50 ovs (Geoff Marsh 104, David Boon 111). India 251/3 in 41 ovs (K. Srikkanth 102, Raman Lamba 64). India won by 7 wickets. MoM: Srikkanth.
• October 26, 1987: England 269/5 in 50 ovs (Graham Gooch 92, Allan Lamb 40; Patrick Patterson 3/56). West Indies 235 in 48.1 ovs (Richie Richardson 93, Vivian Richards 51; Philip DeFreitas 3/28). England won by 34 runs. MoM: Gooch.
• January 18, 1993: India 223/3 in 48 ovs (Vinod Kambli 100*, Sachin Tendulkar 82*). England 224/6 in 48 ovs (Alec Stewart 91, Neil Fairbrother 46; Kapil Dev 2/36, Manoj Prabhakar 2/43). England won by 4 wickets. MoM: Kambli.
• November 11, 1994: India 259/5 in 50 ovs (Tendulkar 105, Vinod Kambli 66). West Indies 254 in 49 ovs (Brian Lara 47, Carl Hooper 84, Jimmy Adams 50; Venkatpathi Raju 4/46). India won by 5 runs. MoM: Hooper.
• March 4, 1996: Australia 229/6 in 50 ovs (Ricky Ponting 102, Steve Waugh 57; Courtney Walsh 2/35). West Indies 232/6 in 48.5 ovs (Brian Lara 60, Richie Richardson 93; Mark Waugh 3/38). West Indies won by 4 wickets. MoM: Richie Richardson.
• October 23, 1996: South Africa 249/6 in 50 ovs (Daryll Cullinan 106, Hansie Cronje 58). India 222/7 in 50 ovs (Sourav Ganguly 54, Tendulkar 64, Mohd. Azharuddin 56, Brian McMillan 3 for 32) South Africa by 27 runs. MoM: Daryll Cullinan.
• March 24, 1999: Pakistan 278/9 in 50 ovs (Saeed Anwar 95, Shahid Afridi 38, Inzamam-ul Haq 43; Anil Kumble 4/53). India 135 in 36.1 ovs (Ajay Jadeja 61, Nikhil Chopra 20) Pakistan won by 143 runs. MoM: Saeed Anwar.
Compiled by Ravi Kant Srivastava