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Tough road ahead for Team India

Team India came up trumps in the just concluded Sri Lankan tour with skipper Virat Kohli in peak form in all the three formats of the game. The incredible 9-0 wins in Test, ODI and one off T-20 match all add to team’s glory. The recent change of coach did not matter much. Sri Lankans were beaten like a pulp and became a cannon fodder for the resurgent Indian Team. We won two Test matches by an inning and both the ODIs and T-20 were won with consumable ease. All the team members played to their capacity and the bowling department came to the rescue when batting failed to live up to the reputation. This is the first time that a visiting nation made a clean sweep to win all the matches.

Having showed their supremacy over the Islander, Team India will face tougher tests against best opponents but the matches will be played in our backyard and hence the chances of winning are bright. It was a team performance to show such an emphatic wins in all the three formats. Our fielding did not click much to the desired level. But both batting and bowling came out nicely to upset Lankans. In all, it was an all round show and that put onus on performance. Kudos to Kohli and team for this incredible winning.

Kohli-led India should not celebrate too soon. While the drubbing of a listless Sri Lanka is not to be scoffed at, the days ahead will challenge the side more. After this, the BCCI will go on to host Australia and New Zealand for a limited-overs series and Sri Lanka (again) for a full-fledged series before the team departs for South Africa for four Tests, five ODIs and three T20Is, slated to start in January 2018. Later that year, Kohli’s men will face the England and Australia. Months before the 2019 World Cup, they’ll travel to New Zealand, where they failed to win a single match last time around in 2014. For a moment, if the home series against Sri Lanka is taken into consideration, “tiring sameness” seem to be the only two words that are likely to cross one’s mind.

After India sealed the series against Sri Lanka in Colombo, Virat Kohli – yet to lose a series as a full-time Test captain – expressed the team is no longer bothered about playing at home or away and have their focus only on winning. Surely, eight consecutive series victories in two years back his statement. But since the 2014-15 Border-Gavaskar Trophy Down Under, India have played Tests mostly at home, except the Sri Lanka tour in 2015, West Indies series in 2016 and the ongoing three-Test series against Dinesh Chandimal’s men.

Team India being in cloud nine and beating Sri Lankans again and again is not a yardstick for quality cricket. After all, cricket in the sub-continent is the same, where pitches aid spin most of the time. We rarely play against Pakistan as cross border firing and infiltration of terrorists all caused strained relations between the two countries. When we last met them in Champions Trophy Final game, we lost by a huge margin. Playing in South Africa, England, Australia and New Zealand all considered more testing and tiring and our cricket schedule did not permit for frequent tours to these countries, whereas we call Sri Lanka again and again in our backyard. It is time to have a broader outlook as thought about by BCCI by sending both Pujara and Ravichandran Ashwin to English County Cricket to get acclimatised to the conditions there. It is time to think about the future rather banking on a facile win against Sri Lanka.

(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)

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