When the going gets tough, bravery is generally the first thing to go out of the window. Pragmatism takes precedence as mitigation of loss becomes the primary target.
It happens in sport as well, especially when a young team with a new captain is involved.
Which is why the achievement of the Indian team in the second Test deserves all the praise it gets.
Following their shock defeat in Galle, a match they should have won convincingly after taking a lead of nearly 200 and snaring five second innings Sri Lankan wickets for 95 runs, the morale of the Indian dressing room must have been low.
Having come close to a win in the Adelaide Test last year and again in the first Test in Sri Lanka, captain Virat Kohli and his young team must have been wondering when the wait for success on foreign soil will end.
Yesterday’s win must have given them immense joy and, more importantly, a sense of relief.
Many had started to question whether the Indian team management’s new policy of ‘attack first’ could be sustained given that the team is very young and doesn’t have a world class bowling attack.
To justify his method, Kohli went in with a five-bowler attack and kept the team one batsman short. That policy backfired spectacularly at Galle where the Indians failed to reach a modest target of 176 to go 1-0 down in the three Test series.
Both Kohli and team director Ravi Shastri must have given the idea of beefing up the batting a serious thought. But this is where the resilience of the think tank shone through.
Kohli stuck with five bowlers and ordered the team to go at the Sri Lankans even harder. The policy paid off as they registered their second biggest away Test victory in terms of runs.
Every member of the playing 11 contributed at some point or the other during the Colombo Test, which is a matter of pride for any team. All top order batsmen contributed with substantial knocks and every bowler took wickets and bowled a tight line, including all-rounder Stuart Binny.
The fielding was exceptional, meaning India did not have one weak link in their side.
It was important for the Indians to win the second Test because the Sri Lankan team, despite their heroic effort at Galle, actually is in a fragile state. They lost all three home series to Pakistan and with Kumar Sangakkara also walking into the sunset, are light on top quality players who can take control of a Test.
While India have got the monkey off their back, it’s imperative that they don’t let their foot off the pedal because the only way a team can progress is by making winning a habit.
We saw during the recently concluded Ashes series that both England and Australia oscillated between the brilliant and terrible so regularly, no one could say with certainty that series victors England were clearly the better side.
India won’t get many opportunities like this one to register a series win away from home and they need to drive home the advantage from here. They relaxed after being in a commanding position in the first Test and paid a big price for it.
Their main target must now be to forget the second Test as quickly as possible and set their sights on the third match because a positive result there will provide Kohli and his side the belief that their new mantra is worth investing in in the long run.
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