India have hit the ground running in Sri Lanka and that is a good sign indeed. The energy and freshness that a big break from the game had given was evident, though once again too much consultation and ponderance while fielding has meant that the team has been fined.
That is a big worry for if in the first game of the season, the team is going to be slow with its overs, then the skipper is in danger of being suspended again as he was last year in Australia. That it happened despite having two spinners in the team is even more of a headache. Dhoni simply has to take calls on his own and not look to do it by a committee meeting every time there is a bad over.
In any case if the team loses he is going to be blamed so why not take the call himself. It is hot in Lanka so it is understandable that there will be just a bit of slowness in trying to get one's breath back while walking to the top of the run up, but the young guns have to take the lead and move quickly to their positions so that they are not out of pocket at the end of the game.
India's strength has been its batting and back on familiar pitches and with the ball hardly swinging or bouncing the strokes came forth with greater regularity. Sehwag, back in the team, capitalized on the early bit of luck and in the end was unfortunate to miss another ton because of a run-out.
Virat Kohli made sure that he didn't miss his and his consistency is good news for India. What was also good to see was the way he rotated the strike and came up with a boundary shot when needed. Suresh Raina showed why he is a fixture in the Indian team by bludgeoning the ball to take India past 300 in the company of his captain, who also played a fine innings.
India went in with a five man attack after a long time and while the tactic maybe junked when playing later in the season, it makes eminent sense when you have a Test centurion like Ashwin batting down at the number 8. That is serious depth and the extra bowler gives the skipper plenty of flexibility.
In Lanka the slower the ball coming off the pitch the harder it is for the batsman to whack it out of the ground and seeing Ashwin give the ball air brings back memories of the days when the spinners looked to get wickets and not just block the runs.
The fielding will get better and the young legs make a big difference as they restrict the twos and threes and save the fours. However they must simply stop going to a fielder every time he makes a good stop. Good fielding is expected of an international, so to make a drama about it is only wasting time and slowing the over rate down.
The win in the first game puts the pressure on the hosts. Their skipper Jayawardene has not been in his usual prolific form though Sangakkara is having a dream run with the bat and is not putting a foot wrong. India know that if Dilshan and Jayawardene strike form then it is going to be a battle on their hands. They have won the first round, but there is more to come.
Professional Management Group