India and Sri Lanka have faced each other on innumerable occasions in the past few seasons. But, apart from the time when Ajantha Mendis dominated the Indians, M S Dhoni’s men have had the ascendancy in most clashes. Here’s a lowdown on why India have consistently held the upper hand in spite of both the Asian sides being equally well-balanced.
The ineffectiveness of Lasith Malinga: The slinger from Lanka has been the country’s main strike bowler in ODIs for a few years now. However, against India, he has been far from effective. He did give the opponents a scare during the World Cup final last year, when he sent back Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar in quick succession. However, that apart, he hasn’t made much of an impression on the Indian batsmen. In the ongoing series as well, India have dealt with him rather comfortably, which has meant that Lanka’s main weapon has not contributed much.
The Kohli factor: Five of Kohli’s 13 hundreds have been registered against Sri Lanka. That tells a story in itself. One of the reasons Malinga hasn’t been successful against India has been because Kohli has played him so well. Even Malinga yorkers have been dispatched to the boundary with ease by Kohli while his short balls have not been spared either. Kohli’s exploits have played a major part in India holding the edge over Lanka.
Lanka’s lack of batting firepower: Sri Lanka’s batting against India has heavily depended on the performance of Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. When they perform in tandem Lanka are on top, but the rest have rarely troubled the Indians. Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera have done well in a few games, but overall, India have been successful in restricting the Lankan batting line up. In the fourth ODI, in fact, it were the part-timers who restricted the Lankan batsmen.
India’s strong batting: But for a few batting collapses here and there, India’s batting has been their stronger suit. Gautam Gambhir has come up with some excellent knocks against Lanka while, apart from Kohli, Suresh Raina and M S Dhoni have also come up with crucial knocks. Most of these have been instrumental in India rubbing salt into Lanka’s wounds.
India’s experience under pressure: While both Lanka and India have men who can handle tough situations, in recent clashes between the two sides, it has been India who have held their nerves better under pressure. In both the third and fourth ODIs, India were under the pump chasing tough targets. On both occasions though they managed to find a way to escape from jail, and march towards convincing wins.
--By A Cricket Analyst