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Rain greets India in low-key SL arrival

August 5th, 2015 | by admin
Rain greets India in low-key SL arrival

The sun has shone in daylight hours in the week preceding the India team’s arrival in Colombo, but as so often happens on the island, rains lie in ambush for the first sign of cricket. The visitors had been scheduled to train at the Premadasa Stadium, but when early morning drizzle worsened into showers, they switched to the indoor nets, partway across town at the Nondescripts Cricket Club.

So when M Vijay was asked before this training session how well he was hitting the ball, “I don’t know – the rain spoiled the previous training” was all the reply he could offer. It was a low-key reply to what has so far been a low-key arrival. The series is sure to heat up when Kumar Sangakkara returns to the country and marches into that final series. But for now, Colombo has switched cricket off, and turned attentions to the general election, which takes place in between the first and second Test.

When it does begin, following the three-day warm up starting on Friday, the series is sure to be a juicy one. Both teams are rebuilding, but are going about it in different ways. While Angelo Mathews has eyed gradual improvement, Virat Kohli heads a team that aims to be forceful and dynamic, though they haven’t yet had much success overseas.

Among Kohli’s plans for the series may be the use of five bowlers in his XI. It is a strategy India trialled in Bangladesh, with roughly good results, but not one they had usually used under MS Dhoni. The flip side of that, of course, is the extra strain on the batsmen, which Vijay said was no strain at all.

“Playing with five bowlers is not demanding for batsmen,” he said. “Batting is our role. If any one of us click it’s going to be good for the team and we’re going to be in a much more comfortable position. It’s a good responsibility to have on your shoulders – to go in and bat. If you’re going to dominate a Test match we should work according to the plans.”

Vijay, now a relative senior in the batting unit, will be expected to provide some of the runs a No. 7 might have hit, particularly as his recent overseas record has been outstanding. He is grateful that, following his nine-month Test hiatus in 2013, his return to top-level cricket was gradual.

“That nine month period I was out of the team – I had my wrist injury at the same time,” he said. “It’s not an easy period for any sportsperson, carrying an injury. I had to go through the regime of rehabilitation. Once I got my rhythm back in my batting it helped to play one format of the game and not play the other two. I had a little more time to work on my fitness and stuff, during that period. “

While the teams’ captains have contrasting virtues, there is symmetry at the top of the innings. Vijay has often played within himself while Shikhar Dhawan broke loose at the other. Sri Lanka have set out with a similar pair – Kaushal Silva doing the Geoffrey Boycott impression, as Dimuth Karunaratne flashes his blade.

“There’s a lot of talent” in the Sri Lanka batting order, Vijay said, but perhaps because these teams play each other so rarely in Tests, he could not say much more. “Angelo Mathews is doing a great job, and Lahiru Thirimanne and the opener – I don’t know the exact name,” he said. If the rains relent, they will get to know each other a little better as the tour wears on.


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