Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cricket with Sri Lanka not sexy yet

By John Cheeran
So India is playing a Test series against Sri Lanka. Have you noticed?
Indian television channels and newspapers haven't taken the series seriously. The seven-match one-day series between India and Australia was dubbed as the honour series by a channel, whereas when the No:2 (Sri Lanka) and No.3 (India) in Test cricket are clashing, there is only muted interest at best.
Why? A fight against neighbourhood Sri Lankans has not become sexy yet for media mavens. Much in the manner of Sanat Jayasuriya not being sexy enough for brand promotion for Indian brands, even though the Man From Matara redefined the grammar and idiom of batting.
After all, it is only Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka has had a rich tradition of cricket even before it played its first Test in Madras but India used to fancy its chances against the island nation for a long time. Not anymore.
The fact, however, remains that Sri Lanka is yet to win a Test in India, South Africa and Australia. Well, even India's Test record in Sri Lanka is not enviable. India has always struggled to beat Lankans at their own turf.
The current series, and the first Test starting on Monday at Ahmedabad, will be significant in one aspect. How many spectators will turn up to watch these games?
The series will be a barometer of the popularity of Test cricket in India. Sri Lankans are gritty cricketers and will spare no effort to win their first Test in Indian soil.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni will have an opportunity to think cricket and ensure that things do not slip from his hand while looking ahead, for 2011.
Certainly, it will be a treat to watch some of the greatest batting talent in this series. Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman all are aware that they are in the last phase of their maha yatra. We will not get many chances to watch these masters in action. And the same holds true for the wily spinner Muttaiah Muralitharan.
If only Sanat Jayasuriya were there.

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