India’s resurgence in the 3rd Test of the just concluded series with Sri Lanka exemplifies their newly discovered self belief and come-from-behind qualities that justify their Number 1 status in the ICC world rankings for Test teams.
The magnificence of VVS Laxman in the second innings along with the solidity of Sachin Tendulkar and the sparkling exuberance of Suresh Raina ensured that a difficult chase of 257 runs was achieved with ease and in style.
Virender Sehwag was declared the Man of the Series not only for his consistent and belligerent batsmanship (with 348 runs) but also for providing his team with crucial breakthroughs in the series with his off-spin. Tendulkar scored 390 runs in the series and was second only to Kumar Sangakarra (467 runs) in the overall tally. Tendulkar played his 169th Test at PSR Colombo to become the player with the maximum number of Tests under his belt.
India played the 3 Test series with a depleted bowling line-up that seemed incapable of bowling the Lankans out even once, and they suffered badly in the opening encounter to go down by ten wickets.
MS Dhoni’s unbeaten record in all series that he has captained India remains intact with the 1-1 result from a difficult series for India.
Kumar Sangakarra was in impressive form himself with a double century and a century to show for his efforts in the series. Mahela Jayawardene was not far behind and it was only at PSR Colombo in the last innings of the series that India was able to skittle out the Lankans for a low score.
Then too, Ajantha Mendis played an astonishing knock to support the redoubtable Thilan Samaraweera in taking their team to some respectability.
It was the excellent batting of Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar in the 2nd Test that brought India relief in a high scoring draw at SSC Colombo in the second Test. Tendulkar’s double ton and Sehwag’s dashing 99 along with debutant Raina’s sparkling ton helped to lift India to a massive 707 in reply to Lanka’s 642 for 4 declared.
Pragyan Ojha improved as the series went on, and was impressive in the 3rd Test, while Amit Mishra and Sehwag gave adequate support.
The two leading spinners in the series had contrasting fortunes. While Mutthiah Muralitharan in his swan-song Test at Galle miraculously claimed exactly eight wickets to take his tally to a mind boggling 800 Test wickets, Harbhajan Singh was injured and out of sorts in the two Tests that he played.
India will need to shore up their pace attack in the coming days, as Ishant Sharma and Abhimanyu Mithun, while putting in earnest efforts on dead pitches, proved to be ineffective. Mithun displayed some talent with the bat but will need to bowl with more penetration to stay in the Indian team.
The Sri Lankan bowling looked unimpressive without Murali and Lasith Malinga in the second Test but Suraj Randiv bowled outstandingly well in the exciting last Test.
All in all, India would be relieved with a 1-1 result given that they were without Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan was below par.
Sangakarra had something to say about India’s number 1 ranking not really being well deserved but the fact remains that Dhoni has won 10 out of 16 Tests as captain, a record that not many captains in Test history can boast of!