Team India all set for Lankan challenge

Jolted by the humiliating defeat in the series opener, India may opt to shuffle their struggling batting line-up.

updated: August 21, 2008 15:49 IST
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Jolted by the humiliating defeat in the series opener, India may opt to shuffle their struggling batting line-up as they go into the second cricket one-dayer against Sri Lanka in Dambulla on Wednesday hoping to find a way to regain their winning touch.

After losing the Test series, the Indians made a poor start to the one-dayers by losing the first game here by eight wickets and it will need a far more inspiring performance by Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men to reverse their fortunes.

The absence of Virender Sehwag, who has been ruled out of the series because of an injury, has come as a big blow for the Indians who have been forced to have a re-look at the batting order.

The Indian think tank is now toying with the idea of shuffling the batting order for the crucial second game of the five-match series.

But with an average age of around 24 years, Dhoni and his men will have to move mountains to get a stranglehold of the on-going series and this may force the skipper to move himself and other seniors up the batting order.

However, Dhoni will be missing the fire power of his most experienced batsman Sehwag who can really be destructive on his day.

In that scenario, vice-captain Yuvraj Singh, who hit an explosive 172 in the lone practice match before the start of the ODI series, opener Gautam Gambhir and Dhoni himself will have to take the responsibilty on their shoulders to guide the relatively junior batsmen of the team.

Understandably, dejected with their show in the first ODI, Indian batsmen were seen practicing hard to realise their skipper's aspiration of putting up a challenging total on the board.

Apart from the batting front, the visitors also have some problems in their bowling department.

Though the pacers have maintained reasonably good line and length, the spinners, led by Harbhajan Singh, are yet to prove their worth, compared to the deadly Lankan duo of Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis.

Veteran Muralitharan and mystersious Mendis continue to be the nemesis of Indian batsmen as they duo rattled the visitors innings on Monday, picking up three wickets each.

Mendis is turning out to be a threat for Indian batsmen who were once considered as the best players of turners and skipper Dhoni was candid enough to accept that they are facing difficulty in picking up the new spin sensation.

Stating that Mendis is more unusual than even Muralitharan, the Indian skipper said the main issue was to get the score ticking in ODIs and it was not enough merely to gauge their kind of bowling.

"Even if you pick him, by the time you realise what ball it is, it gets really late to play a big shot. You will see batsmen who can play him, but in ODI cricket it is not only about playing him," admitted Dhoni.

In sharp contrast, the Lankans are high on confidence after the Test series victory and yesterday's convincing win in first ODI will only add to that.

The Lankan's mesmerising bowling attack has always been their strong point. What was their prime concern was the depth in their batting order, but now it seems the bowlers have propelled the batsmen to strike form, thereby making them a force to reckon with.

The spin duo of Muralitharan and Mendis have been ably supported by veteran Chaminda Vaas and company throughout the series. The captain himself has been a revelation with the bat.

Jayawardene led from the front in the first ODI with his tricky bowling changes and unbeaten 61 with the bat. However, inspite of all these, what can be a decisive factor in Wednesday's crucial encounter is the toss as the Rangiri International Stadium wicket seems to favour the pacers.

In all probability both Dhoni and his counterpart Jayawardene would opt for fielding first going by the way the wicket has behaved in the first match and the Indian skippers admissal after the match that he perhaps misread the wicket and chose to bat first which put paid to his team chances.

"Indian players are experienced and even this young side has dynamism and players who can take away a match from the opponents," said a Sri Lankan official.