Indian cricketers battle to retain No. 1 ranking with Sri Lanka

15:56, July 25, 2010      

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India's ranking as the world's number one Test cricket playing nation will be at stake as they begin the second Test with Sri Lanka here Monday at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) ground.

India needs to win at least one of the two remaining matches in the series after Sri Lanka won the first Test in Sri Lanka's southern port town of Galle early this week.

If India lose both matches they would slide down in the rankings and Sri Lanka would gain the number one rank for the first time ever.p If Sri Lanka and India win one match each, India would still retain as number one.

India has not been able to win a series in Sri Lanka since 1993. They needs to beat the record to keep their number one ranking.

The Indians will be smarting over the absence of two of Sri Lanka's main bowling weapons -- the retired record breaker Muttiah Muralitharan (Murali) and Lasith Malinga, the man-of-the-match in Galle.

But then there is the return of Ajantha Mendis, the man who tormented them in 2008 here. The freakish off spinner took 26 wickets in his debut series and as if to remind the Indians of the horror took six wickets against them in the only warm-up match.

The venue is the island's cricket headquarters and the SSC pitch has historically been Sri Lanka's happy hunting ground. Sri Lankan batsmen churn out runs in cavalier fashion -- 400 plus totals are the norm.

As the Indians showed in Galle their less than penetrative attack should find it another uphill task to contain the Sri Lankan batsmen.

Sri Lanka's Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera and TM Dilshan all scored centuries at the SSC match in 2008 with Murali and Mendis together taking 19 of the 20 Indian wickets.

The Indian top batting order failed to apply themselves in Galle which was the main reason for their defeat.

Their senior batsmen need to learn from the application shown by their bowlers Abhimanyu Mithun and Ishant Sharma who showed courage when it seemed all lost for India.

Mithun and Sharma held on to support V. V. S. Laxman whose fighting 69 showed the need to go back to basics of patience and concentration.

The tally at the SSC is 2-1 in favor of the hosts having won in 2001 and 2008. Two matches have been drawn in 1985 and 1997 with India's only win coming in 1993.

Source: Xinhua


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