So, I head off to Chicago for less than a week, only to return and find the ashes of Indian cricket lying around. We’ve known of Sri Lanka’s prowess since 1996, when they won the World Cup with a revolutionary ODI strategy. But they never really gained chops in Test cricket in my opinion: without Muralitharan and a few other stars, their team lacked the necessary firepower. And when they toured Australia last year, they showed that they were still in transition, struggling to come out of the so-called “lost decade.” Even now, I’m not convinced that they’re an international team; without Malinga and Fernando, they are only champions in the sub-continent.
Well, that’s still something to behold: there’s no doubt now that Sri Lanka has toppled India as the king of the neighborhood. It’s not just the mauling in the first Test; it’s also the deplorable series India played against South Africa. India just seem to have lost the home advantage.
That’s not to say things are all bad for India: I’d rather have victories abroad than victories at home. It’s a bit sad nevertheless. Gone are the days of a tireless Javagal Srinath making the ball talk on dead Indian pitches. Ishant Sharma and Sreesanth are excellent bowlers, but they still don’t understand what to do when the pitch has nothing to offer (even while Australians, like Mitchell Johnson, have figured out the local customs). And so, we arrive at a difficult crossroad: India, ascendant abroad (victory in England and the West Indies; tough battles in South Africa and Australia), only to lose its dominance at home.