Will the real Sri Lanka please stand up?
Match factsSunday, November 9, 2014
Start time 1330 local (0800 GMT)
"Thrashed" and "embarrassed" were the words Angelo Mathews used to describe Sri Lanka's abject outing in Motera. He is not a captain who is accustomed to losing this year. Before this tour, Sri Lanka had won 15 of their 20 matches in 2014. Of those, 12 (out of 14) had been away victories. Sri Lanka had hoped to earn small victories on this tour, even if an outright series win seemed far from reach, but so far, they have gleaned only broken spirits and bruised egos.
Where to start with the visitors' problems? The bowling has seemed almost entirely devoid of menace past the first 10 overs. The fielding has been flatter than the pitches they have played on. The batting has sometimes seemed panicked and been lethargic. A little rust was expected before the series, but it's almost as if Sri Lanka put their best cricket in cryogenic freeze when they visit India. They have never won an ODI bilateral series in the country, nor a Test.
Even with several second-string players, India have hardly broken a sweat. Three batsmen have collected hundreds, while bowlers like Ishant Sharma and Akshar Patel have begun making a case for World Cup inclusion. The batting, as usual, is rock-solid in India, but the bowlers have remained admirably effective as well.
Beyond the World Cup plans, Virat Kohli has also given a glimpse of the kind of captain he might become. Proactive and instinctive, Kohli's gambles have paid off so far, with the batting-order reshuffles yielding good dividends and bowling changes regularly bringing wickets. Sri Lanka will have to raise their game substantially to test Kohli and his team.
Form guide(last five matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
He may not be a big turner of the ball, but Akshar Patel has not allowed the pressure of international cricket affect his accuracy yet, as he regularly delivers guileful left-arm spin through the middle of the innings. He has taken two wickets in each of the last three matches, and traveled at no more than four an over in them. In this series, the scalps have also been significant ones. He removed Mahela Jayawardene in the first ODI and Tillakaratne Dilshan in the second, just as those batsmen seemed set to play long and important innings.
Thisara Perera has had a strange year. In January, the selectors denied him permission to play in the Big Bash League, and questioned his work ethic. In April, he struck the winning runs in Sri Lanka's World T20 triumph. In May, he was dropped from the ODI team, during the England series. And having left the squad during the South Africa tour, citing mental stress, he became player of the series in the ODI win against Pakistan. A fit and firing Thisara shapes as a major asset for Sri Lanka's World Cup campaign, but now, after two mediocre outings with the ball, pressure has begun building on him again.
India played three spinners in Motera, but may not opt for the same combination again if the track looks unlikely to take less turn. Dhawal Kulkarni is a chance to play, but legspinner Amit Mishra sits in the dressing room awaiting a game as well.
India (probable): 1 Ajinkya Rahane, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Ambati Rayudu, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 7Ravindra Jadeja/Dhawal Kulkarni, 8 Akshar Patel, 9 R Ashwin, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Umesh Yadav
Sri Lanka may think seriously about playing Nuwan Kulasekara in the XI, though it is not immediately clear at whose expense he might arrive. If the Hyderabad track seems like it will offer less to the spinners, Suraj Randiv may sit out.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Kusal Perera, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Mahela Jayawardene 5 Angelo Mathews (capt.), 6 Ashan Priyanjan, 7 Seekkuge Prasanna, 8 Thisara Perera, 9 Dhammika Prasad, 10 Suraj Randiv/ Nuwan Kulasekara, 11 Lahiru Gamage
Pitch and conditions
Dew is expected to play a role as usual, but otherwise forecasts suggest the weather should not interfere. Another flat deck is expected in Hyderabad.
Stats and trivia
- Sri Lanka have lost 31 of the 45 ODIs they have played against India, in india
- Angelo Mathews' 92 not out took him to the top of the 2014 ODI run-scorers' list. He has hit 838 runs at 64.46 this year.
- Shikhar Dhawan needs 45 runs to reach a career tally of 2000
"Rayudu is one of those batsmen who has a different set of skills - to bat the full 50 overs. He can come in the middle order and rotate. It was a great show of temperament, and the character and the class that we know he possesses."
India captain Virat Kohli on the team's latest centurion
"Before this tour we thought we had a lot of time before the English tour, but at this level of cricket you have to face it and be ready at any given time to start playing."
Sri Lanka spin bowling coach Roger Wijesuriya is reluctant to excuse Sri Lanka's poor showing so far
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.