Sri Lanka v India: Why this series is more important than it seems
Sri Lanka and India have faced each other so often over the last couple of years, that another series between them must have induced more painful grunts rather than cheers. While the normal cricket fan will not find it a reason to count days until the series starts, the teams, coaching staffs and the real cricket fanatics will see this from a completely different view point and suddenly there are so many reasons to be excited about Saturday and the week that follows!!
Obviously players and the coaching teams will have to approach this in a very professional manner, but why is it important to anyone else? For once, it'll be interesting to see how India will play after one of the longest breaks they have got in the last decade, will they bring more energy into the games or will they be rusty? Will Sri Lanka be able to continue with their winning habits and find that consistency they have been seeking for over the last couple of years?
ICC T20 World Cup 2012
India and Sri Lanka are among the favorites to lift the T20 World Cup and even though the series consists of only one T20 International, it will reveal to some extent how each of these teams are going to plan for the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup which is to be held in Sri Lanka in September. The same venues will be used for the mega event as the ones that are being used for this ODI series, so for the Indians it will be a great opportunity to play on these surfaces and find out how they behave. Even though these two teams have faced off so many times of late, the cricket grounds - R. Premadasa, Pallekelle and Hambantota - were newly constructed (Premadasa pitch relayed) for the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2011. Although India played some games at these grounds, one can say that they will be still new to them to some extent.
All captains, players and selectors will have the World Cup at the back of their minds and will be looking for ideal combinations. The players will give that extra bit to perform well and make an impression to make the squads, when the already selected 30-man squads will be trimmed down over the coming months.
Sri Lanka's New Pitches
After arriving in Sri Lanka, MS Dhoni said that it shouldn't be a problem for his players to get acclimatized to the weather and conditions in Sri Lanka, but what he has actually missed is that how different the new pitches in Sri Lanka - especially Pallekelle and to some extent Premadasa - have behaved compared to the traditional sub continental tracks. Indians being poor players of the seaming and swinging ball will be tested on these pitches, especially Pallekelle, where only a few weeks ago, both Pakistan and Sri Lanka struggled on a beautiful greenish sporting wicket. A wicket that the whole sub-continent can be proud of!
Sri Lanka's attack now consists more of pace bowlers as a reason of the fast bowling all rounders they have discovered so these conditions will suit them well. Even though it might sound the same as those last boring 50 matches played between these teams, it is actually a different scenario, with different conditions and new players and combinations.
With rain always being a possibility in both Colombo and Pallekelle at this time of the year, we can expect at least a few games under some cloud cover which will also test the batsmen with the ball moving around. All these are signs of a great contest between bat and ball!
ICC ODI Rankings
Since the rankings were introduced; Australia has dominated for the longest lengths of time and with a considerable lead as well. However with their unsuccessful ODI tour in England, that lead has come down and now the first four teams are only separated by two ranking points with Australia 119, South Africa 118, England 118 and India 117. Sri Lanka is currently holding the fifth position with 112 points.
This series will give India a great chance to top the rankings, a feat they haven't achieved since 2009. For Sri Lanka on the other hand, it will be an opportunity to kick India down from that fourth position and/or close the gap between them and the leading pack for that ultimate world No.1 ranking!
If India beats Sri Lanka 5-0, they will end up with 120 ratings touching the peak of the rankings easily, which will be a memorable achievement for them. They also can get to that No.1 position with a 4-1 win (119 ratings) as they will be ahead by points. Anything less though will mean they'll have to wait longer to rise to the top, with a 3-2 win making no difference to the rankings of the both teams.
For Sri Lanka, a 5-0 win means that they will move to the fourth position with 116 and push down their opponents to the fifth place with 112 ranking points. Anything less will make a bit of a gap between the table toppers Aus, SA, Eng and these two teams. Even a 4-1 series win will switch the places between these teams, but only one ranking point will separate them with Sri Lanka 115 and India 114. A 3-2 win by Sri Lanka will make no changes to the order, but only reduce the gap between India and Sri Lanka to just two ranking points, India 115 and Sri Lanka 113.
If Sri Lanka manages to shatter India's dream of getting to the top of the ICC ODI Rankings, it will be to some extent, sweet revenge for those horrible memories and lost dreams of April 2nd 2011.
Therefore when one looks at this series in terms of the impact on ICC Rankings, it is quite obvious that not only Indian and Sri Lankan fans will be anxiously looking at the results, but the Australian fans too, hoping that their team retains that No.1 crown a bit longer. When you add the T20 World Cup plans and preparations to the list, there is no reason why any cricket fan shouldn’t find the results of this tournament as a sign of things to come!
So it’s actually not too late to find some tickets and have a nice day out at the cricket or even call up your friends, fill the refrigerator with beer and get ready for a nice sunny BBQ watching quality cricket, because this time, it’s not just another Sri Lanka Vs India series, it's a lot more than that!