Former Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan feels that nerves might play a part in Team India’s performance during the first match. The new bunch of individuals that have been picked have rarely played in the last few weeks. This might hinder their game according to the Lankan legend.
The group of youngsters in the Indian squad are evidently inexperienced. There are as many as six uncapped players in the contingent. Although everyone has earned their place through domestic dominance and Indian Premier League (IPL) performance, the international stage might cause a few jitters. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, are coming on the back of a white-wash at the hands of England. Granted it doesn’t sound inspiring but Muttiah Muralitharan still feels Sri Lanka have a slight advantage.
“The only disadvantage I would say is they [India] have not played a game for a long time. Sri Lanka, somehow they have played a few games – they didn’t perform well but still. When you play a game, nerves and everything comes,” he pointed out while talking to ESPNCricinfo.
“India are favorites but there is a sniff for Sri Lanka” – Muttiah Muralitharan
Alongside established white-ball players like Shikhar Dhawan and Hardik Pandya, the first-timers will need to anticipate all the downfalls of a failure. Since the international stage garners a lot of attention, the players need to be mentally strong. This aspect might tilt the scales in Sri Lanka’s favor a bit, according to Muralitharan.
“The first match will be a tricky match for India because they have to get their A game to play and if they miss, then they will doubt themselves a little bit. India are favorites but there is a sniff for Sri Lanka because they have been playing cricket recently,” Muralitharan reckoned.
However, underestimating an opponent can be detrimental to a team. And so, the legend went on to state the Indian team should not be considered as a second-string side.
“Nobody should even think about this [Indian team] as a second strength [side] because these players have been performing,” he concluded.