Indian batsmen have been found wanting against the moving ball of late but opener Shikhar Dhawan on Saturday insisted that they have learnt from the mistakes made in Dharamsala and Kolkata.
The ordinary performance in pace-friendly conditions has raised question marks ahead of the South Africa tour beginning early month when India go into the three-match Test series without playing a single warm-up game.
“We have learnt a lot of things. Especially when we played in Kolkata (during first Test against SL) and in Dharamsala (first ODI),” said Dhawan ahead of the ODI series decider against Sri Lanka in Visakhapatnam on Sunday.
“It was seaming and it was a damp wicket but we still went in with a positive intent and gave our best and of course, it didn’t go our way but we all learnt from it. It’s good sometimes when you fall, you learn a lots of things out of it,” he added.
India bounced back to level the series in Mohali courtesy a third double hundred from captain Rohit Sharma. India made a bagful of runs in the second ODI but Dhawan said there were still important learnings to take from the game.
“The way we came back in the next game, in Mohali we felt that it was a damp wicket at the start but it wasn’t. Still the ball wasn’t coming that nicely when we were batting at the start.
Taking pressure nicely
“We took the pressure nicely and changed the game after ten overs. As I said, it’s always a learning curve, we are learning and we are going to get better from here,” the left- handed opener said.
The southpaw was also all praise for his opening partner Rohit, who has led from the front in his first full series as captain.
“He has only been captain for two matches but I’ve known Rohit from a long time and I know what his character is like.
“He is a very chilled out captain and tells us to keep the basics right, we all know our roles, we just have to give our best and hats off to him for the way he performed in the last game. Very happy about it,” said Dhawan.
On what he thought of the captain’s unbeaten 208, Dhawan said: “Rohit and I have played for a long time. He is one of the best opening batsman I have played with.”
Pressure ahead of third ODI
The stylish opener conceded that there is pressure ahead of the series decider on Sunday but the team is used to it.
“Of course there is pressure whenever you play a final (decider), there is pressure but we are used to it and there is going to be a big crowd tomorrow.
“We are a strong side and we believe in our ability and our skill, we are going to go out and play it like any other game, just do the basics right.”
At the same time, Dhawan expects the Sri Lankans to be better prepared after their loss in Mohali though the home team will be ready for the challenge.
“See of course, when you attack the opposition and the players we are, the calibre we have got once we are in. Once I am in, I can demolish any side because that is my strength,
“And even Rohit, once he gets settled, he scores big. Of course any opposition can have plans when they lose, they will learn out of it and will come out with a better mindset, we know about it, we will be aware of it because we know they will come out with strong plans for us,” he said.
Dhawan further said that he loves Visakhapatnam, having done well in the Deodhar Trophy to fight his way back into the national squad.
“I’ve always loved coming back to Vizag. Very beautiful city, very clean city and of course the property in which we are living, it has the sea in front of us, it’s beautiful.
“And of course I did well in the Deodhar Trophy as you said and after that there was a drastic change in my career.
As they say, Vizag is a city of destiny isn’t it? It has been good for me and I always enjoy coming here,” he signed off.
Hoping to do something special in familiar conditions: Thisara
Smarting from Rohit Sharma’s onslaught, Sri Lanka skipper Thisara Perera said they were well prepared for the ODI series decider against India and would look to do “something special” in conditions similar to those back home.
The islanders’ three-match ODI series against hosts India is tied 1-1.
“Definitely, Vizag is similar to Sri Lanka when it comes to weather and stuff. Mohali and Dharamsala were completely different. It was a total different story. We are well prepared. Here I hope we will be able to do something special as this is something similar to what we find at home,” he told reporters on the eve of the match.
Perera said the team had a couple of training sessions and prepared well and they were taking it like just another game.
“We had a good couple of training sessions. We are well prepared for the game ahead,” he added.
India under pressure
About India being under pressure ahead of the final game, he said it is the best team in the world and could be under some sort of pressure.
“From our side we take it as just another game. Not thinking too much as to whether the series is at stake or whatever. We want to play just another game. India are the best team in the world and I am sure they will be under some sort of pressure,” the Lanka skipper added.
Perera said the team management had not finalised the playing XI as yet and said they would take a call after looking at the wicket tomorrow.
“We will take a look at the wicket and stick to a 12-man squad and decide tomorrow,” he said.
He played down the defeat in Mohali and the onslaught from India captain Rohit Sharma, backing his bowlers to bounce back.
“Our bowling didn’t click and that was disappointing. But these things happen in cricket. We want to put that game aside and bounce back. We have some plans for Rohit and for Shikhar Dhawan and now it is up to our bowlers to execute those plans. We will see what happens tomorrow,” Perera said.
“Mentally we are all prepared. That is why I said that these things happen in cricket. We will not repeat these mistakes. First match we won, then they bounced back and we want to put our mistakes to rest and bounce back again,” the big-hitting all-rounder said.
Pitch expected to be slow
As for the pitch, he said, it looked a bit dry and expected it to be on the slower side.
“Took a look at the pitch, it looks to me a bit dry. Past matches there has been only one high scoring game. Today and yesterday there’s been good sunshine and I am sure there will be turn and the wicket will be slow,” the Lanka captain said.
He said the plan was to take early wickets and capitalise on the batting line-up that was without Virat Kohli. It worked in Dharamsala but didn’t in Mohali and expected the bowlers to deliver the goods in tomorrow’s game.
“If you see we took two early wickets in Dharamsala and that enabled us to put more pressure on the Indian side. Their middle and lower order all of a sudden was under pressure. Our plan in to take early wickets in the first 20 overs and that will help us to put pressure on the opposition,” Perera said.
“We had a good chat yesterday. These things happen. Those two guys (Suranga Lakmal and Nuwan Pradeep) bowled really well in the first game, but failed to execute those plans in the second game. We have spoken about it and I am pretty certain they will delivery in tomorrow’s game,” he added.