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Kohli-Shastri combination off to a positive start

India’s journey towards 2019 World Cup needs glorious moments from players and team

16:53 July 30, 2017

After India’s defeat in the Champions Trophy final to Pakistan and all the drama that followed over the selection of their new coach, Team India’s emphatic win over Sri Lanka in the Galle Test would have come as a huge relief for the players.

A winning start is what skipper Virat Kohli and the new coach Ravi Shastri would have always wanted.

All eyes are now on to see whether the Kohli-Shastri combination will bring in continued success. They will have to prove that their journey towards the 2019 World Cup is filled with glorious moments. And this start by posting India’s biggest win (by 304 runs) away from home over Sri Lanka on Saturday is a positive sign.

India exhibited a ruthless approach while crushing Sri Lanka, and this is what is needed from every team if they hope to dominate world cricket. Years ago when the West Indies were a powerful team, they enjoyed crushing teams by huge margins; so did Australia under Steve Waugh’s captaincy.

The enormity of India’s big win can be gauged from the fact that their last biggest win by runs outside their country was nearly three decades ago when they beat England by 279 runs at Headingley in 1986. A team that is on a winning streak will be filled with positive energy.

It is up to the captain and coach to ensure that all players are together in their journey towards success.

Pakistan’s triumph in the Champions Trophy is a case in point. After their huge defeat to India in the opening match, no one could stop them.

Sri Lanka have recently lost some of their great players; but it is important to regain their winning form. Their defeat on Saturday to India is their biggest in Test cricket, worse than their 282 runs loss in Cape Town to South Africa this year.

A team slipping from one big defeat to a bigger one does not augur well for their future.

Players who get their chances should grab the opportunity and prove themselves.

Indian opener Abhinav Mukund, after his debut in 2011, got to play in only seven Test matches, but he proved his class this time with a knock of 81 at Galle. Cheteshwar Pujara, labelled as only a Test player, scores heavily at every opportunity and has 12 centuries and 13 fifties for an average of 52.18 from 49 matches.

Many criticise Ravichandran Ashwin’s bowling despite his match winning spells, but what they forget is that he is the fastest to reach 250 Test wickets and needs only 25 more from his next six Test matches to become the fastest to reach 300 wickets. Only players and teams aiming for consistent success can go a long way.