Self-admittedly, Sri Lanka were under prepared for the ongoing one-day series against India. And, if their effort in the opening ODI was anything to go by, they still don't seem prepared for the tour, at least not mentally. Both with the ball, and later with the bat, they were completely out of sync with their game and, in the process, ended up handing India one of their easiest wins in one-dayers. Hopefully, the defeat will serve as a wake-up call for Lanka, and the reality that they are featuring in an international tournament will strike them.
Their weak bowling attack could hurt Sri Lanka very badly during the course of the series, as was evident in the first of the five one-dayers at Cuttack. In the absence of Lasith Malinga and Rangana Herath, who are not featuring in this series, their attack looked toothless. Dammika Prasad has won a Test match for Sri Lanka in England, but apart from that he has done precious little for Sri Lanka international cricket. Wonder why he keeps getting picked in the team so often. He opened the bowling on Sunday, and the Indians took an instant liking to his mediocre bowling.
Off spinner Suraj Randiv, who has impressed in the past, and has decent amount of international exposure, has been recalled to the side to fill in for Rangana Herath. This series will provide him an opportunity to try and stake a claim for a spot in the World Cup team. From what was on offer at Cuttack, the signs aren't impressive. He needs to show significant improvements in the upcoming matches. Randiv did finish with three wickets in the game, but he conceded way too many runs. The other bowlers in the side, barring Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera are inexperienced, and it showed in their bowling.
Having conceded a 360 plus score, Sri Lanka were always going to struggle. But, the Lankans have chased down bigger scores in the past. Also, unlike their bowling, they have come to India with a full-strength batting outfit. However, even their experienced batsmen seemed under-prepared for the India challenge, as a result of which they faltered in a big way. Not a single batsman hit a fifty, and only Mahela Jayawardene crossed the 40 mark, but he too fell soon after. The Sri Lankan batsmen could never get going against the Indian bowlers, who were always at them and, in the end, the pressure got to them.
It wasn't as if the Lankan batsmen didn't have their chances. All of their top four batsmen got quick starts, but none could get going. Ideally, Sri Lanka needed one big partnership like the one between Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane, followed by good support from the rest. They were successful in getting the big shots early on, but the constant loss of wickets unsettled them. In the end, it was pretty much a listless Sri Lankan performance.
--By A Cricket Analyst