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India in Sri Lanka, 1993-94

Date-stamped : 03 Nov93 - 06:27 An Eventful Series (Article by Vijay Lokapally, Sportstar 9/4/93) The Sri Lankan tour was a memorable one for Azhar and company. After a gap of seven years, India tasted victory on foreign soil. Here Vijay Lokapally analyzes the performances of the Indian players during the Sri Lankan tour. 1) Manoj Prabhakar: The lead man of the team. There is no better team man than this gutsy allrounder. His determination is easily more than the others and his success is a result of all the hard work he has put into his cricket over the last few years. His good run with the bat meant that the team management could play five bowlers. He loves the No. 1 spot and proved to be a competent opener. The only allrounder in the world who opens with the bat and the ball. He batted within his limitations and bowled beyone expectations. He is not a brilliant fielder but his attempts to give his best stood out. He has learnt to build his innings and also play his shots and also turned out to be a genuine allrounder on this tour (12 wicktets and 154 runs). His McEnroe like aggression might have annoyed the umpires, match referee and the Lankan players, but his colleagues admired him for every little thing he did on the field. 2) Navjot Sidhu: He is sort of an enigma--solid in one session and tentative in the next. But there are no doubts about his commitment to the cause of the team. The hundred he got in the second Test was a display of determination and application. His association with Prabhakar wa a very vital factor in India doing well. He has learnt to be cautious, but at times, he allowed the bowler to dominate. That is not the Sidhu known to Indian fans. The fact that he sparred the spinners was a proof of the change in his attitude. His failure in the one-day series was a blow to the team's chances. But his performances in the Tests was yet another encourag- ing factor for this Punjab batsman to keep improving and cement his place in the side. In three innings, he hit 225 runs, which is good by any standards. 3) Vinod Kambli: Looks a Test batsman now, much to the disappointment of the critics. He is hungry for runs and his choice of picking the balls to hit is easily the most striking feature of his batting now. He was known to play square of the wicket but he has corrected his approach. Thanks to Sunil Gavaskar, he has understood the importance of playing in the 'V'. His ability to beat the defensive field was exemplary. When the offside was blocked, he played some exquisite onside shots. He may have a few technical flaws, but he has kept his reputation intact with a remarkably consistent run in the Tests. It is not a joke to hit a hundred in a Test match and he has four to his credit from the last five Tests, which includes the Kandy washout. 4) Sachin Tendulkar: That he is an integral part of Indian cricket is established now. He had a good series--an unbeaten 104, a 71 and a bad decision. He has cut out shots, probably feeling the pressure of high expectation every time he walks out to bat. He headed the averages at 101.50. He was worth more runs. It's time he realizes that at number 5, he holds a very important position particularly in the limited overs matches. Sadly, he never got going. He is aware of his responsibilities and it was Sri Lanka's good luck that this young fellow did not explode with the bat in any of the one-day matches. 5) Mohammed Azharuddin: There is nothing sweeter than success and this gentle Hyderabadi took the victory as just another job well done. He was not happy with the 1-0 verdict. In his opinion, the team should have won the third Test too. He has certainly improved as a captain, but is keen on improving further. He began the tour with a classy century at Kurunegala and looked good everytime he batted in the Tests till getting out suddenly. Then he too had a bad decision in the second Test, the only time the skipper was seen showing his displeasure at the decision. He handled the side extremely well, particularly during the explosive situations on the field, and reserved his comments on the umpiring until the end of the series. For all future tours to Sri Lanka, the skipper feels that the Indian Board should insist on neutral umpires. 6) Praveen Amre: He had a poor series. Bad shots in the one-day matches despite the fact that he was considered the best man to tackle the Lankan spinners. He managed to hang on in the first innings of the second Test, remained not out in the second and got a bad decision in the third Test. He was always under pressure with a feeling that his place in the side was not secure. 7) Kapil Dev: Bowled well in the Tests in patches, slow in the second but on target in the third. He admitted that in the first match at Kandy he was not satisfied, despite the fact that he added one more wicket to his tally. Never seen Kapil appealing so much, probably a little frustrated at not getting to Richard Hadlee's world mark. Always gave 100 per cent on the field, bowled his heart out, but it was not enought to fetch him wickets. At the end of the series, he had just five wickets to his credit. He certainly was not the Kapil we knew. He struggled to get going with the bat in the one-day matches, particularly the third, but had a useful knock in the first. In the second Test, he looked good for a century before he was packed off by the umpire. 8) Kiran More: A typical wicketkeeper, always egging on his mates, even at the cost of inviting the wrath of the opposing batsmen and the umpires. He did not drop a catch but missed a stumping. His batting was below expectations, but his mere presence was enough to inspire his sagging spirits, particularly when umpiring was at its worst. A fine team man with a few years of cricket left. There's no real threat to him for the 'keeper's slot. 9) Anil Kumble: In two Tests, considering the fact that he never bowled at Kandy, he had a haul of 13 wickets. He was the most impressive bowler after Prabhakar. A true match winner, he sacrificed his nip by slowing down a bit in order to turn. His maturity and accuracy are qualities which make this leg-spinner the strike bowler of the team. The day he failed, Indian struggled. He knows his limitations and tries to bowl within them. He has sharpened his bowling skills and if he works on the googly, it should make him a more dangerous bowler. 10) Javagal Srinath: Had a disappointing tour, except for a good spell in the second Test. He is an attacking bowler who would do much better with the new ball rather than come as a first change, at least in the one-day games. He tried to bowl too fast at the cost of accuracy and realized his folly late in the series. Would do well to remember Azhar's words after landing in India. "Work Hard." 11) Rajesh Chauhan: There is scope for impro- vement. He hardly turned the ball, and as Ajit Wadekar said, should learn the art of flighting, which is so important for an off-spinner to be successful. Often, he landed the ball at the wrong spot when he flighted. Improved as a fielder but not with the ball, probably feeling the pressure of an overseas tour. 12) Venkapathy Raju: He had a disappointing tour. Played just one Test and had two wickets to his credit. A spinner with a lot of promise, he needs to take more wickets, and in the opinion of the cricket manager, needs to learn the art of 'buying wickets.' 13) Vijay Yadav: Should improve if he is to pose a threat to More. An ideal man for the limited overs cricket, with his forceful batting. He had an average tour. The six to extra covers off Rama- nayake was a memorable shot but not the predetermined charge he gave in the one-day match. The best deputy to More. 14) Ajay Sharma: Got to play only one match because Amre failed. Spent much time at the health center and pool to stay in shape. Looked very impressive while playing the spinners in the last one-day match. Even Gavaskar acknowledged it. 15) Salil Ankola: Played just the three-day tour opener and was never in consideration. Did his part by bowling eagerly in the 'nets'. 16.) W. V. Raman: Never got a chance to play, except coming in as a substitute. Made a crucial contribution in the second Test, when he picked up a superb catch on the last day. Could have played the last one-dayer but for the 'harakiri' by the Indian batsmen under the flood lights at Khetterama Stadium. Contributed by shash (sshah@*

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