Chess is the sort of mindgame where masters of the endgame use trusted tactics to outwit the opposition. And so far, in this series, India have cleverly employed the same tactics to outmanoeuvre Sri Lanka’s gameplan.
So, what now after fourth defeat in sun-bathed Pune? This was where Sri Lanka bowling gamble again seriously backfired. It is a tough old learning curve which the young Faveez Maharoof is going to remember. Bowling in Indian conditions has nor been easy. As he will tell you, it can be a tough work.
With the series already gone, it can be expected that Sri Lanka will want to launch a salvage operation and at least win a couple of games. Better lose 3-4 or 5-2 than receive a 7-0 dubbing, as former captain Arjuna Ranatunga has suggested.
Sri Lanka, needing a win on Thursday to stay in the series and because of the conditions, opted for four frontline bowlers for the first time. It could be argued, although a little unfairly, that Maharoof was the fifth bowler in tandem with Sanath Jayasuriya as well as Tillekeratne Dilshan and Russel Arnold.
What we could find in Ahemdabad tomorrow is a change in the batting order. Keeping in mind the Test series a month away, several options are open. While Upal Tharanga is in need of more exposure at the top order and opening with him is not a question of drawing the short straw. Chances are that Dilhara Lokuhettige will replace Maharoof in this game.
Much, of course, will depend on pitch conditions, but with Jayasuriya the second best spinner in the side, either he is moved down the order for his own good, or rested for the Tests. The theory is that both he and Muttiah Muralitharan still have the mystery factor about them and overuse in the remaining three games would narrow the options in the three Tests.
As these are slotted in for New Delhi, Kanpur and Chennai, it will give Tom Moody and the captain a chance to think about long-term as well as the current tour planning.
What will help in this is the the return of newly-married Mahela Jayawardene to the side to boost the middle order with his style of exuberance and taking charge when chips are down. He did this so cleverly at Jaipur where he put together an attacking 71 off 70 balls and allowed Kumar Sangakkara to play the anchor role in scoring that century.
At least his absence in Pune gave Tharanga a chance to show that he can bat in the top order and contribute. A little more discipline would help him as well, but he is a bright young batsman that Sri Lanka are thinking about as a CWC07 candidate.
It would also give Marvan Atapattu, essentially a middle-order batsman a chance to bat at four or five, depending on the situation of the game. He did a nifty enough job in Pune where he finally put a half-century innings of quality together. It means that batting options and all-rounder places need added examination.
Sri Lanka are missing something important in their bowling strategies and it is starting to impact on the team and the results. It could of course be one of those series where the visitors battle to defend even a competitive total. It is becoming tougher and Lokuhettige needs to do more than be an extra net bowler.