From Sunil Gavaskar
India pulled off a stunning win over Sri Lanka which gives them the hope that they can still qualify for the finals of the tri-series. It was by far India’s best performance of what has been a dismal and disappointing tour, and if it galvanizes the team to go on to win the tri-series and show that they are true World Champs, then it will make up to a great extent the dejection of the Indian fans over the summer. Of course Sri Lanka can win the last game against Australia, who have already qualified and still spoil India’s party.
When India conceded 320 runs, only the most optimistic of Indian supporter would have believed that India would get them, leave alone in under 40 overs. India’s batting had just not clicked and though there were sporadic innings the consistency was not there. Moreover India had just not got off to a good start in the entire tournament. This time they got off to a fifty plus beginning with Sehwag and Tendulkar both playing some superb shots. India got just the momentum that they needed and they could push forward from this platform. Gambhir is the one top order batsman in good form and he continued the good work by playing some lovely shots. Virat Kohli, who has got going but has not really finished in this series so far saved his best when India needed it most. If in the earlier outings he gave the impression that with a Test century under his belt, runs would come easily to him and thus got put here, his focus was so intense that his eyes would have burned a hole in anybody looking at them. This was exactly what was missing in India’s earlier games. There was a lethargy about the team that was perhaps due to the length of the tour and the fact that India were not winning much. Luckily despite that lethargic display by the bowlers, the batsmen rose to the occasion magnificently and showed why they are rated so highly. The situation for Raina when he came into bat was what he thrives on especially in the T20 format of the game. It was also a sub-continental attack he was facing and so he got going immediately.
Lasith Malinga has never been hammered as much as he was and he has never been as expensive as he was in this game and Kulasekara continued to bowl those medium pace full tosses around the knee which are what batsmen get in charity and benefit matches to hit for fours and sixes.
It was a truly heartwarming show and while all eyes will be glued and fingers and toes crossed as to what happens in the Australia – Lanka game it is just the kind of effort that lifts everybody’s spirits up.