India, July 1 -- There was a time when Sri Lanka and Pakistan were better teams than India. That situation has changed significantly and it's as much credit to Indian cricket's growth as it is a reflection of the quality of players coming through our neighbours.
Pakistan's batting is in dire straits with Nasir Jamshed the only glimmer of hope, while Sri Lanka's problem is that their dependence on ageing stalwarts has not diminished one bit. Pakistan have some bowling talent coming through, Sri Lanka cannot boast of that either.
Lasith Malinga is their only 'go to' bowler but his best years are behind him. Malinga has made the most of the freakish, natural talent he was blessed with.
Malinga's bowling style is such that his potent deliveries are either full length or bouncers, both of which need physical effort. With his diminishing fitness, Malinga is not able to crank up speeds of over 140kmph as often as he could, and to a superior batting line-up like India, he becomes a gamble. His economy rate of over six against India compared to his career rate of about five demonstrates this point.
It is frightening to imagine life in Sri Lankan cricket after Dilshan, Sangakkara and Mahela. Yes, Chandimal, Thirimanne and Kushal Perera have shown the odd spark, but they better grow up quickly or there is a chance Sri Lanka may become the whipping boys of top teams. This sport can't afford another mediocre international team. India play Sri Lanka at Jamaica today, and I don't see the script changing much from what it's been over the last few years.
The writer is a former India batsman
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.