Indian maturity factor made the difference
Is India really as good as they look, in all ages of cricket or hasn't the other teams kept up the pace of progress? That's my question today as I attempt to understand how Sri Lanka lost the Youth Asia cup final played at the R.Premadasa Stadium under lights. The baffling thing about the whole affair was the way the Lankans surrendered from virtually a strong position and allowed India to get a foot in, from where India never looked back.
Looking at the game itself and the way it started one got the feeling that the Indian batting unit was a strong one. The technical aspect and the manner they complied their inning indicated the class they carry with them. It was only the want of experience and the youthful exuberance that caused their respectful downfall as otherwise it looked a tough task for the Sri Lankan bowling to dismiss them.
Nipun Ransika looked the best prospect for Sri Lanka with his pace. He was aggressive and quick though the rest of the bowling wasn't really too exciting. In fairness one has to concede that the Indians too didn't possess a bowler of real quality that can win games for a team. They were all useful than really special.
What the Indians were ahead of the Sri Lankans was in their batting and the way they absorbed the situation. The manner they performed in the big stage was mature to say the least. My question is where did the Lankans lose to India? It wasn't in the bowling and can't be fully due to the inability of the batsmen. Then the only answer to the puzzle lies in the experience and the maturity factor where the Indians were definitely superior.
One of the major reasons for most young cricketers to fail in the big league, when they are blooded, is the manner they are able to absorb the situations and the challenges that get thrown at them. There could be many bad examples of players struggling at a very young age and withering away for a while before they reappear on the stage. It's mental toughness that's needed here.
There are also good examples with Sachin Tendulkar of India being the best.
Coming in at a very young age he not only stayed in the team but got the seniors to accept him as one of them at a very early age of his life. Smith of South Africa was made captain at the very young age of twenty two in a team comprising many seniors. He not only led them, but built a winning combination. Virat Kohli is another positive example of such a fact. There could be a few more names of players that could be spoken of though the number of failures is far greater than the positives.
However in this instance I am talking is about those that are virtually boys thrown in to a men's world. And even a failure in such a situation can be excused with the hope of a return. My point is in the current Youth Asia cup, teams were in the same age groups and in terms of ability I didn't see too much of a difference between India and Sri Lanka that contested the final. In any sport it's a universal fact that the team that performs well on the day or the team that commits the least mistakes will be the one that win. In contests between evenly matched teams the mental toughness becomes a factor and top players try not giving an opening to your opponents by being tough both with their game and mind. Hence we witness great contests and the eventual human fallibility giving way in the final outcome of the game.
In the Youth Asia cup final contested by India and Sri Lanka the factor that stood out most between the two teams appeared to be the very thing that I have highlighted here. It was visible in situations where the Indian team held their nerve and came out of a virtual now in situations and the Lankans simply succumbing when up against it.
And how do the Indians get it more than their Sri Lankan counterparts? My answer to the said puzzle could be the exposure the younger cricketers get and also the chances they get to mingle in the dressing rooms with top and experienced players and from it how they derive good advice.
Besides, the Sri Lankans get picked purely from a school set up and obviously at that stage doesn't have the opportunity to come in contact with the type of experience their Indian counterparts may have. Though I am not so sure the Indian school set up is as good as their Lankan counterparts, they do play in tournaments at state and zonal level and go through various methods of examination, where the opportunity beyond cricket involving the mind of an individual gets fully tuned on. I am convinced that Sri Lanka didn't lack in talent when compared to the Indians though they were beaten. However the quick maturing process of a player, if not set in motion very early, India which has abundance of that will be hard to beat on the world stage. Their winning of the Youth Asia Cup for the third time running seems to support my thinking.
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