India eye victory in Mohali ODI

India go into the second one-dayer against Sri Lanka on Friday determined to prove that the Nagpur heroics were just the beginning of a turnaround.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:53 IST
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India go into the second cricket one-dayer against Sri Lanka on Friday determined to prove that the Nagpur heroics were just the beginning of a refreshing turnaround. It was a rare display of teamwork and individual brilliance, which gave the Indians a comprehensive 152-run victory in Nagpur. The victory gave India a 1-0 lead in the seven-match series and Rahul Dravid and his men will be keen to keep the momentum going in what promises to be a thrilling floodlit contest. The margin of victory may have come as a real surprise for cricket fans considering that the build-up to the home series was largely dominated by the public spat between Sourav Ganguly and coach Greg Chappell and the bickerings in the Cricket Board. But the recent unsavoury incidents did not seem to affect the hosts in the series-opener as they went about their task with a new-found enthusiasm and aggression to completely outplay the visitors who are ranked number two in the world in the shorter version of the game. Tendulkar boosts confidence The return of maestro Sachin Tendulkar, who spent six frustrating months on the sidelines because of an elbow injury, seemed to serve as a tonic for the weary Indians who appeared to have no clue on how to come out of a prolonged form slump. Tendulkar showed vintage form and his blistering 96-ball 93 was a timely reminder to some of his critics who felt that his best was behind him. But despite the convincing victory, the hosts can hardly afford to be complacent against the Islanders who are fully capable of turning the table on any fancied opponent. It is unlikely that the Lankans will fold up so tamely again in the remaining matches. Focus on consistency Everything seemed to go in India's favour in Nagpur and even the surprise move to promote Irfan Pathan to the number three slot paid rich dividends as the Baroda youngster responded with a sizzling career-best 83. Dravid, who took over the captaincy from Ganguly, is aware that the team has to remain focussed and perform at a consistent level right through the series. "It was a fantastic team effort in Nagpur. But Sri Lanka are not the number two team in the world for nothing. There are still six matches to be played and I'm sure some tough cricket is ahead of us," said Dravid. "It was just one of those days when whatever we did clicked and our plans succeeded. We played well in all departments of the game. It was a splendid team effort." Worries for Lankans The Lankans, who began the tour with an embarrassing loss at the hands of a local outfit in Mumbai, would have to pull up their socks and new coach Tom Moody may have already read out the riot act. The form of captain Marvan Atapattu has been a worrying factor and the visitors have not been able to get those blazing starts in recent times. It remains to be seen whether the team management will tinker with the batting order on the Mohali track which is expected to produce a lot of runs. Atapattu has promised a better showing from his team and for that to happen, his bowlers would have to contain the Indian batting line-up which has a fine blend of youth and experience. While Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Dravid have loads of experience, Venugopal Rao, J P Yadav and M S Dhoni have shown promise and seem to be easing into their roles gradually. "In the first match, we did not play well enough. We will try not to repeat the same mistakes. We need to improve our performance," Atapattu said. Toss crucial The dew factor at this time of the year can play a role in the outcome of the match which has generated a lot more interest after India's crushing victory in Nagpur. The toss, therefore, could become vital as a dew-sapped wet ball could make life far more difficult for the bowlers. The two Indian spinners Harbhajan Singh and Murali Kartik bowled well in Nagpur and completely mesmerised the Lankans. It was after a long time that Harbhajan seemed to find his rhythm and he really proved a handful for the visitors. Paceman S Sreesanth will again open the bowling attack alongwith Pathan and the Kerala youngster has shown that he has the ability to succeed at the highest level but needs to be properly groomed. It will be a real test of his characters as the top Lankan batsmen like Sanath Jayasuriya and Kumar Sangakkara are almost certain to go after him and put him under considerable pressure. Teams: India: Rahul Dravid (captain), Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Venugopala Rao, Jai Prakash Yadav, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Harbhajan Singh, Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, Murali Kartik, S Sreesanth, Suresh Raina, Gautam Gambhir and Rudra Pratap Singh. Sri Lanka: Marvan Atapattu (captain), Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Mahela Jayawardene, Tillekaratne Dilshan, Russel Arnold, Chaminda Vaas, Upul Chandana, Thilan Samaraweera, Farveez Maharoof, Muttiah Muralitharan, Dilhara Fernando, Nuwan Zoysa, Dilhara Lokuhettige and Upul Tharanga. Umpires: Billy Bowden (NZ) and A V Jayaprakash (Ind). Third umpire: I Shivram (Ind). Match Referee: Alan Hurst (Aus). Hours of play: 2.30 pm to 6 pm ; 6.40 pm to 10.10 pm. (PTI)