Will India fire in familiar territory?
March 13, 2012
Start time 1400 (0800 GMT)
Another ODI between India and Sri Lanka. Before you cringe in disgust, the mitigating factor in favour of the latest match is that it is not part of another hastily arranged bilateral series. The teams have no option but to meet once, at the least, in the Asia Cup.
One silver lining, if it can be called that, for India on the disaster that was their recent tour of Australia was their performance against Sri Lanka in the Commonwealth Bank series, which culminated in that record chase led by Virat Kohli in Hobart. Out of four meetings between the two sides, India won two and tied another.
India know that will count for little; Hobart and Mirpur are two different worlds as far as conditions are concerned. For the record, they are the defending champions in this tournament. India go into this series with several questions to answer. Among them is the role and future of Sachin Tendulkar in the ODI side. At least the rotation policy at the top of the order that was employed in Australia has become dormant for the moment with no Virender Sehwag in the squad.
The middle order comes with its list of young batsmen with much to prove. Are Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma the men who will perform for India in the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand? Their presence in the squad shows that the selectors believe they will; the Asia Cup in Bangladesh, unfortunately, is not the place for them to prove they can.
In a way, India are in a cannot-win situation. If they do well in this tournament, it will be said that they are back to doing what they are best at - making merry on flat subcontinent pitches. If they do not, the talk will be that if they cannot do well even in these conditions …
Sri Lanka are in a much better position. This was not a statement you could have made before the CB series. What a difference the change of captain has made. Under Tillakaratne Dilshan, Sri Lanka looked rudderless and stagnant. Under Mahela Jayawardene, they seem to have found their way again. What's more, Dilshan has rediscovered himself as a batsman too.
Jayawardene has said that his appointment is short-term and his immediate goal is to make Sri Lanka win again. He started well in the CB series with Sri Lanka narrowly losing out in the finals to Australia. Back in familiar conditions, and considering how rusty Pakistan and India have looked in ODIs recently, Sri Lanka will go in to the tournament as favourites.
Sri Lanka LWLWL
In the spotlight
Ravindra Jadeja usurped the spinning allrounder's position from Yusuf Pathan last year. Yusuf then missed most of the domestic first-class season with an injury. He is now back in the squad in place of Sehwag. The jury is still out on which of the two players is better suited to the No. 7 position. While Jadeja is easily the better fielder and bowler, Yusuf is streets ahead in his ability to turn a game with his batting. Who will win this round of the fight for No. 7? The conditions might just work in favour of Yusuf.
The version of Lasith Malinga on show in the CB series was not the accurate stump-shattering one the world has come to know. It was surprising to see him send down so many full tosses as he consistently failed to get the yorkers on target. When he tried other lengths, he did not have the same venom. Malinga will be smarting from the way Kohli toyed with him in Hobart. Will the yorkers come out firing in Mirpur?
Pitch and conditions
There was some grass on the Mirpur pitch for the opening game between Bangladesh and Pakistan but it could not alter the usual slow nature of the surface much. The ball did come on to the bat better in the evening, but Misbah-ul-Haq said that was due to some dew. Bowling first in the subcontinent is usually not a popular option; it might not be a bad one in Mirpur.
Upul Tharanga was dropped and then returned way down the order in Australia with Jayawardene partnering Dilshan at the top. Tharanga responded with two half-centuries. How will Sri Lanka use him in the Asia Cup?
Sri Lanka: 1 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Dinesh Chandimal, 5 Lahiru Thirimanne, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Upul Tharanga/Thisara Perera, 8 Seekkuge Prasanna, 9 Nuwan Kulasekara, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Sachithra Senanayake
Will Manoj Tiwary finally get a game? How long will he have to wait for his chance? Will Tiwary's Bengal team-mate Ashok Dinda, who has had an outstanding domestic season, make the XI?
India: 1 Gautam Gambhir, 2 Sachin Tendulkar, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Rohit Sharma, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja/Yusuf Pathan 8 Irfan Pathan, 9 R Ashwin, 10 & 11 two out of Praveen Kumar/Vinay Kumar/Ashok Dinda
Stats and trivia
"International cricket is such that you have to adapt very quickly mentally and physically, so no complaints."
Mahela Jayawardene knows he cannot do anything about a schedule that gives Sri Lanka four days between games in Adelaide and Mirpur
Edited by Dustin Silgardo
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo