Madhavrao scinda cricket ground at Rajkot has been a happy hunting venue for Yuvraj Singh who has made 246 runs in four outings with two big scores to his credit. The left hander made 79 in the 6th ODI back in 2005, to guide India to a 7 wicket win against Sri Lanka.
Thillekeratne Dilshan batting lower down the order, in yester year has fond memories at Rajkot. In 2005 Dilshan made 59 against the hosts and followed up his liking for this venue yet again in 2006/2007, in the second ODI. Dilshan batted alongside Kumar Sangakkara and put on a match winning partnership of 108 runs for the 5th wicket, to resurrect Sri Lanka from a hopeless position, in which four top order batsman were kicking their heals in the hut, with the score on 58
Man of the match Kumar Sangakkara’s 110 consisted of 11 boundaries and four big sixes, to help Sri Lanka pile 257 runs for 8 wickets in their allotted 50 overs. Apart from Sangakkara and Dilshan none of the other batsman impressed at Rajkot our venue for tomorrow.
India fell short by just 5 runs to end their 50 over allotment, by getting to 252 for 9 wickets with Gangully leading the way for India with 67, Tendulkhar 54, and current skipper MS Dhoni 48.
Re visiting that great win by the visitors against India at this venue, the home team was cruising at one stage, the 3rd wicket stand between Gangully and Sachin of 100 runs; saw India playing the percentage game.
Stage two was when Dinesh Karthik and Dhoni batted with ease and the Indians looked well set on 235 for 5 wickets, just 23 runs for victory with 5 wickets in hand. Lasith Malinga, who was very expensive conceding 75 runs, gave the visitors the much needed break through when he had Karthik LBW, with a toe crusher to put Sri Lanka back in the game.
Malinga Bandara bowled economically to capture 2 for 36, including the prize wickets of Tendulkhar and sehwag, with Mahroof getting among the wickets with three scalps. What memories.
The defeat that Sri Lanka faced in 2005 was a one sided affair in which the visitors were undone for 196 in 42.5 overs and hosts India made the target in 34.5 overs with Yuvraj singh blasting his way through to a super 79.
Sri Lanka will be vary of India’s performance in their last outing against the Englishman at this venue back in 2008/9.The Englishman were sent on a leather hunt ,India made 387 runs for 5 wickets, in 50 overs. Yuvraj made merry with an unbeaten 138 , Virendra Schewag 85, Gautam Gambir 51 and Suresh Raina 43 with Dhoni chipping in with 39.The English were bowled out for 229.
The entire batting lineup that got among the runs against England in 2008 will be in pursuit for India tomorrow except Yuvraj, a doubtful starter due to a finger injury.
Yuvraj met with a orthopedic Surgeon, based on his report, the management will decide. If a hairline fracture is diagnosed, he will not play in remainder of the series, Virat Kohli will be India’s next choice. Virat was a suspect of the swine flu infection, however he has been cleared.
Sri Lanka on the other hand is faced with selection dilemmas in two skill levels both batting and the bowling arena. The high achy is transparent about Jayasuriya batting at number 5. This is being planned with the batting power play in view. The big question among critics is, batting at number 5 or 6, will he be effective stroking a softer ball with the same velocity, with the Indian spinners in operation?
The other factor which the selectors will take a close look at is, if Sanath opens Kandamby can bat at 5, Mathews at 6 and Kapugedera at 7. The pertinent point is, Jayasuriya for over a decade has tasted the new ball with a harder cover, and had been devastating against the Indians. Jayasuriya as an opener is also Physiological factor for India since the south paw has amazed 13,377 runs with 28 centuries and 68 half centuries.
Bowling dilemmas is mind wobbling as well. A specialist spinner is a must. Will it be Mendis or Murali? In the pace department will it be Dilhara or Welegedera ? Nuwan Kulasekara is an automatic choice, but he too is under a cloud, taking into account his recent performance against the Gambir,Shewag factor. Interesting thoughts. Think of the probable selection options.
Sri Lanka between 2005 and up until now has played two games at Rajkot and has mixed feelings with their chances of a win at this venue . They beat India in a nail biter and lost one, very badly.
At Rajkot statistic prove, the side that bats first more often than not in fact five out of six.