India vs Sri Lanka ODIs: Match Practice Better Than Net Practice, Legends Tell Mathews & Team
Sri Lanka's five-match ODI series was planned in haste after West Indies dramatically pulled out of their India tour midway, due to an ongoing pay dispute with their Board.
Former cricketers Muttiah Muralitharan and Sanath Jayasuriya took positives out of Sri Lanka Cricket's sudden commitment to play a five-match ODI series in India, which will start from November 2, contradicting views from current cricketers who complain of a grueling schedule.Â (Also read: Amidst legends, Angelo Mathews is leading Sri Lanka by example)
However, with 19 ODIs to play before the showpiece World Cup event in February, there seems to be a bit of nervousness and worry in the Sri Lankan camp.
Former Sri Lankan spin wizard, Muralitharan, though, sees this series as an opportunity to get added practice ahead of the mega tournament in Australia and New Zealand.
"You have to be positive. At the end of the day you are going to learn far more from playing matches than you are practicing in the nets," Muralitharan wrote in his column in a leading daily. (Virat Kohli slips to 3rd spot in ICC ODI rankings)
Sri Lanka's tour of India was decided at the 11th hour. After West Indies' dramatic pullout, midway through their series due to payment issues, the 'distressed' Board of Control for Cricket in India reached out to their 'friends' at SLC and a five-match ODI series was chalked out in no time.
While the board didn't think twice, the players have not hesitated in expressing their surprise at the rescheduling in such short notice.
Sri Lankan veteran Kumar Sangakkara, who is set to bring down the curtains on his illustrious career after the World Cup, took to twitter and slammed the decision to tour India before a home Test-series against England.
After Sri Lanka's success in the two-Test series England earlier this year, a lot of focus was on improving the fitness standards within the squad in the build-up to the World Cup. Yet, the national squad's intense fitness programme under the guidance of former national rugby union skipper Chandrishan Perera was brought to an untimely end to accommodate the India series.
On arriving in India, Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews too spoke about the challenge of playing India in India and stressed on the fact that his players have not had enough practice for a full-fledged series. Their lack-lustre show in the lone warm-up tie in Mumbai on Thursday, where they conceded 384 runs and lost by 88, further corroborates Mathews' concern.
Sri Lanka Cricket's chairman of selectors Sanath Jayasuriya, however, begs to differ. He feels this India series provides a great launch pad for the fringe players.
"This is an ideal opportunity for some of the bowlers who have been around to grab their chance by performing against a top team like India. These players have been in the system for some time and thrown into the deep end, we can see how they cope with the pressures," he said.
With some players are still struggling with niggles, it will be a herculean task for Sri Lanka to find their rhythm in the five ODIs vs India. Yet, a positive result in the series could get the 2011 World Cup finalists up and running for another shot at glory in 2015.