Tri-Series Cricket: Sri Lanka Beat Australia Again! Do or Die For India!

After winning the toss and electing to bat first Australia did post a challenging total of 280 runs for 6 wickets in allotted fifty overs at the ninth match of the Commonwealth Bank Cricket Tri-series yesterday played at Hobart in Australia.  Dashing new-comer Forrest scored a brilliant century with masterly support from skipper Clarke who scored 72.

But the total did not prove to be enough with the Sri Lankans going great guns while chasing. Skipper Jaywardene led from the front making a quick-fire 85 opening the innings. Chandimal proved his consistency by making a superlative 80 that almost saw Sri Lanka through. Sri Lanka achieved 200 runs as early as in the 37th over and seemed to be coasting to an easy and emphatic victory. But after his dismissal in the 45th over Australia made a temporary comeback with wickets falling and the asking rate rising. Spirited Sri Lankans overcame that and achieved an exciting victory by 7 wickets with just 4 balls to spare.

Now, Sri Lanka is almost through to the finals with 15 points followed by Australia with 14 and India in the bottom with 10 points. Every team has two matches each at this stage and rotating-experimenting-ego clashing-divided Team India must win their remaining two matches to entertain the thought of figuring in the finals. If they lose tomorrow’s match against Australia both Sri Lanka and Aus will be in finals. If they win tomorrow but lose the second match against Sri Lanka, Aus will have to figure it out in their last match helped by a very healthy net run-rate. India might still harbor some hope of reaching the finals losing one, but winning the other with a bonus point plus drastic improvement in net run-rate. In the unlikely case of India winning both their matches they will be straight into the finals and the last match of the tournament between SL and Aus will be the huge virtual semi-final for the other finalist.

What are India’s options? Hardly encouraging at the moment. They may consider stopping rotation or experimentation, but this could come as too late now. Top order batsmen are yet to settle down in some sort of a form or consistency and the youngsters are not at all predictable. The young pace bowlers are bound to get affected by their recent experiences with Zaheer Khan hopefully making a comeback. Irfan Pathan, if persisted with, will be another crucial factor. They must in any case regroup well and fast and give an all-round robust performance as a national team playing for their country’s pride. Unfortunately, this looks a doubtful proposition at the current state of affairs with the team.

The insensitive Indian cricket Board denied the very existence of any rift or any problems within Team India. You must understand! The Board has been terribly busy preparing and  raising money for the forthcoming IPL-Season Five and for making it a grand success. For their gratification all star players to figure in IPL-5  now playing  the Tri-Series had had good practice except perhaps for Manoj Tiwary. If club cricket brings in more bucks for the Board why bother about national team’s performance and so-called national pride! Finally it’s money that counts!

For the time being it’s over to Sidney for Sunday’s match between Australia and India.


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