By Jaideep Varma and Jatin Thakkar
Scores: Sri Lanka 320/4; India 321/3 (India won by 7 wickets with 13.4 overs to spare)
1998 is unanimously considered the year Sachin Tendulkar touched his peak. And the most memorable moment in that period was Tendulkar’s 141 against Australia when India needed a stiff target to qualify for the tournament final (knocking out New Zealand). India just about managed to do that (though they lost the match) and then went on to win the tournament.
Virat Kohli’s finest ODI innings (and India’s best team batting performance after the World Cup final) put him in that hallowed league today – as he produced a performance that could be remembered years from now, if India can finish this tournament like that one.
This is the match seen through the Impact Index prism.
Three days ago, we had put up a piece that seemed to surprise a few people, about how Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir were India’s highest impact chasers in its ODI history. They lived up to that spectacularly today, Kohli going on to also demonstrate why he is such a high impact ODI batsman in general. Today, he was magnificent on every count (eventually making his Strike rate IMPACT almost touch 1, which is a rare occurrence). To do so in a chase that could have seen India’s chances in the tournament vanish by the end of the match suggests a coming-of-age from where there will perhaps be no looking back. Just like there wasn’t for Tendulkar in 1998.
321 in 40 overs to be alive in the tournament was an impossible target in the context of what has happened not only in this series but also in the last few months. The extraordinary performance required to make this happen came from the most likely quarters – ending the last debate about whether India needs to move on from its seniors or not. Having said that, Sehwag and Tendulkar gave India a good start (both had an IMPACT of around 1.4), however short-lived their respective stays were (and however poor Tendulkar’s pre-determined choice of shot was when he got out).
Gambhir’s characteristically stabilising innings (63 off 64, IMPACT 2.59) played a big role in setting up the win. Raina’s blitz at the end (40 off 24, IMPACT 2.17). Both provided just the right kind of support to Kohli in their respective circumstances.
Eventually, Kohli’s 133 off 86 (IMPACT 6.69) comfortably dwarfed Dilshan’s 160 off 165 (IMPACT 4.50). Given how the match turned out, and what the conditions were, it is not unreasonable to say Sri Lanka were actually short in the end – and Dilshan gets penalised on Strike Rate quite significantly because of that. That, and the Chasing/Finishing IMPACT that Kohli had in the game took his impact comfortably ahead.
Sangakkara produced his first big performance of the series (105 off 87, IMPACT 3.84) – ironic that it couldn’t come in a winning cause. He will hope for a reprise when it matters the most (something that Sangakkara has done throughout his career).
That the highest impact bowler in the match took 1 wicket for 43 runs in 9 overs tells you what kind of match it was. Ravindra Jadeja (Bowling IMPACT 2.06, which included an Economy IMPACT of almost 1, not a common occurrence) and Praveen Kumar (1 for 64 in 9 overs, IMPACT 1.47, he did break a partnership though) would not have believed it if they’d been told at the half-way stage that they’d be the highest impact bowlers in the match.
The Sri Lankan bowlers got the hammering of their lives – only Maharoof (1 for 21 in 3 overs) managed to cross a Bowling IMPACT of 1. Malinga (1 for 96 in 7.4 overs), Perera and Kulasekara all garnered negative Bowling IMPACT figures.
Overall, India’s Team IMPACT in the match was 1.72 as compared to Sri Lanka’s 0.91. A big gap that reflects the thrashing they received.
Whether that has done enough damage for them to not be at their best against Australia on Friday could well determine the memorability of today’s match.
For more information, please go to www.impactindexcricket.com