Momentum with India in series decider
Sunday, February 14, 2016
Start time 1930 local (1400 GMT)
Sri Lanka, with their raw-but-aggressive seam attack, prospered on a greentop, but on the dry Ranchi surface, the visitors were never in the game. Seam and pace appear to be Sri Lanka's surest route to rattling the hosts again, but it's unlikely they will encounter a helpful pitch in Visakhapatnam. If another dry track is prepared, Sri Lanka are in danger of being blown away by India's top order cannons, and picked off by India's spin.
More worrying than a potential series loss for the visitors, will be their problems at the top of the order. Sri Lanka are days away from naming their World T20 squad, but are yet to locate a replacement for Kusal Perera. Danushka Gunathilaka has not quite made the best of his chances. Niroshan Dickwella has played only one T20 international, and was dismissed cheaply in it.
With Shikhar Dhawan striking his first T20 half-century on Friday, India's T20 puzzle is falling into place. Hardik Pandya's pinch-hitting promotion also went off well, while Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane all seemed in good touch. Yuvraj Singh appears to be the only doubt at present, but he has also had limited opportunities with the bat.
On the bowling front, R Ashwin seems to be spinning himself into ominous home form, as Ashish Nehra continues to settle into his new-ball role. MS Dhoni has options with this XI. He tried seven different bowlers on Friday, allowing him to reserve more overs from the frontline bowlers for the back end of the innings.
India: WLWWW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka: LWLLL
In the spotlight
Dhoni had so many overs from his part-time bowlers on Friday, that he was able to use Jasprit Bumrah as a death-overs yorker specialist. It was a job Bumrah performed admirably. He gave away 13 runs in his first over - the 16th of the innings - but varied his deliveries better in the second over, to claim two wickets and concede only one run. As sharp in the field as he is at the bowling crease, Bumrah is among those adding dynamism and versatility to the India XI.
Quick and hostile in Pune, versatile in Ranchi, Dushmantha Chameera is beginning to blossom at the top level. There are areas to improve on. Maybe he could use the seam a little better than he is at the moment, and the yorkers aren't exactly consistent either, but those are minor contentions. Chameera will probably play through the entire T20 season coming up, because Sri Lanka have few other choices, but they should also be wary of overusing him. There are big mid-year Tests on the horizon. They need Chameera fit for those.
With almost everyone having contributed in some way to the victory, India will be tempted to keep the same XI.
India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Ajinkya Rahane, 4 Suresh Raina, 5 MS Dhoni (capt.)(wk), 6 Yuvraj Singh, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Ravindra Jadeja, 9 R Ashwin, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Ashish Nehra
With Gunathilaka unable to show his T20 wares so far, Niroshan Dickwella may be given another chance at the top of the order. Team management will also think about giving Jeffrey Vandersay a match ahead of Seekkuge Prasanna.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Niroshan Dickwella, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Dinesh Chandimal (capt.)(wk), 4 Chamara Kapugedera, 5 Dasun Shanaka 6 Milinda Siriwardana, 7 Thisara Perera, 8 Sachithra Senanayake, 9 Dushmantha Chameera, 10 Jeffrey Vandersay, 11 Kasun Rajitha
Pitch and conditions
Going by the scores in the four one-dayers that have been played in Visakhapatnam, the pitch makes for moderately high-scoring games. The weather is expected to remain good for the game's duration, with temperatures dropping to the low 20 degrees Celsius range.
Stats and trivia
- Having begun the series needing 17 runs to get to 1000 for his T20 international career, Yuvraj Singh still requires seven to reach the milestone. He would be the fourth India batsman to the mark.
- India have won four of the five completed games at Vishakhapatnam - all ODIs.
- Thisara Perera's hat-trick - off his three final deliveries of the innings in Ranchi - gave him his best T20 figures of 3 for 33.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando