The 2009-10 season for India begins with the tri-series in Sri Lanka and since it’s the season before the ICC World Cup in 2011 it will give the selectors an insight into the areas that India needs to strengthen and tighten up on and areas where they need real improvement.
The season thus becomes crucial for players, coaching staff, selectors (both senior and junior) and administrators alike for without the complete coordination between all these arms of the game in India it might once again be a case of the hosting country never winning the big prize in cricket.
Sri Lanka is a tough side to beat in limited-overs cricket and especially in their own country but India have done that earlier in the year and so will be confident of doing so again. What India must remember is that Lanka did not have Lasith Malinga in that series as he was recovering from injury. He makes a huge difference to the team as New Zealand discovered in the first game of the tri-series.
Samaraweera has now shown that he can translate his Test record in the limited-overs game too and with old horse Jayasuriya still lurking around it is not going to be easy for India at all.
Gautam Gambhir’s loss (groin injury) is a big blow because apart from the southpaw being in such prolific form last season it also means a totally new opening pair because Sehwag is also out with injury.
India may well open with Dravid and Tendulkar and that will give a real solid look to the opening spot. There is Yuvraj, Dhoni and Raina to follow so there is plenty of strength in the batting line-up and Yusuf Pathan can give the power to boost the total in the slog overs.
It is the bowling that will be a bit of a worry since Ishant has not quite clicked in limited-overs cricket and R.P. Singh after his injury has not been the consistent self of the 2007-8 season. Harbhajan Singh will have to shoulder the burden.
What has been good to see in the just concluded Corporate Trophy is Yuvraj’s spells of bowling. He has the knack of picking up wickets and he will have to be more than just a spare bowler in this series.
While it is early days yet, it does appear that the Kiwis are counting the days to go home despite having flown in one-day specialists. So it will be the hosts that India will have to watch out for. They are thirsting for revenge after their defeat earlier in the year.
Professional Management Group