Confident hosts face under-pressure India
Match FactsMonday, August 16, 2010
Start time 14.30 (0900 GMT)
The recent contests between Sri Lanka and India have had an interesting subplot: Kumar Sangakkara v MS Dhoni. The Indian captain made his views clear about the floodlights in Dambulla, the poor practice pitches, the toss factor, and the difficulty of chasing a target. Sangakkara, on the other hand, said, "If you can't win batting under lights, you are not a good team". He wasn't responding to Dhoni at the time, but Sri Lanka chased a target with ease against New Zealand, after India had lost to the same team by 200 runs. Both Sangakkara and Dhoni are also planning for the World Cup, assessing the arsenal at their disposal. Monday's game gives them another opportunity to find answers to certain questions.
India's questions are several: Is Ravindra Jadeja good enough? Is there an in-form allrounder who can replace Jadeja, or should the part-time spinners fill the role of the fifth bowler in the subcontinent? Is medium-pacer Abhimanyu Mithun good enough? Should Virat Kohli play in the middle order, or should Rohit Sharma be persisted with? Will Ishant Sharma's form dip further if he is looted for runs in this format? And how long will Dinesh Karthik continue to squander starts?
For quite some time Sri Lanka, too, have had problems with their combination. Can Chamara Kapugedera grab one of his numerous opportunities, or it time to give Dinesh Chandimal a run? Is Thilan Samaraweera a good fit for ODIs or should he be replaced with either Chamara Silva or Thisara Perera? Should Suraj Randiv be played with Ajantha Mendis or with Rangana Herath? Should Dilhara Fernando be given a game here and there?
In the short term, however, Monday's match is crucial to India's hopes of staying alive in the tri-series but they have been dealt a blow by the absence of Yuvraj Singh, who has been diagnosed with dengue fever. Ashish Nehra, who has some trouble with his gluteus muscles, is also uncertain.
A second defeat, following the bonus-point loss to New Zealand, will make it hard for Dhoni's men to engineer a turnaround. An Indian victory will leave all three teams on a win each and the tri-series wide open.
Form guide(most recent first)
Sri Lanka: WLWWW
Watch out for...
Rohit Sharma has been having a tug-of-war with Virat Kohli over a middle-order spot for some time now. Both batsmen have had chances to cement it but neither has done so. Rohit has wasted more opportunities but he's made a comeback in recent times. He can bowl spin but Kohli can bowl medium-pace, and both were tagged with attitude problems in the past. The future perhaps belongs to both, but can Rohit grasp his chance now?
It's easy to like Chamara Kapugedera. He throws himself at the ball on the field, bats wherever his captain wants him to, and seems to be a good team man. But is that enough to save his spot, and could this series be his final shot at securing a permanent spot?
Sehwag and Raina had gone to India after the first game but both have returned to Dambulla and are available for selection. Ishant trained in the nets after an ankle injury forced him out of the first game and is likely to replace Mithun. In the event of Nehra's absence, Munaf Patel could be drafted in while Kohli could replace Yuvraj.
India (probable): 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Dinesh Karthik, 3 Rohit Sharma, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 6 Suresh Raina, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Praveen Kumar, 9 Ishant Sharma, 10 Pragyan Ojha, 11 Ashish Nehra/Munaf Patel
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Upul Tharanga, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (capt & wk), 4 Mahela Jayawardene, 5 Angelo Mathews, 6 Chamara Silva/Thilan Samaraweera, 7 Chamara Kapugedera/Thisara Perera, 8 Suraj Randiv, 9 Lasith Malinga, 10 Ajantha Mendis/Rangana Herath, 11 Nuwan Kulasekara.
Stats and trivia
- Thisara Perera seems to be an Indian specialist. He has played seven of his 10 games against India. His best bowling performance (2 for 27) is against India. His highest score (36 not out) is also against India. He is yet to play at home against India, though. His chance may come on Monday.
- Dinesh Karthik seems to be a Sri Lankan specialist. He averages 29.96 overall, but in 11 games against Sri Lanka he averages 37.75 and at a better strike rate (82.28) as well.
Pitch and conditions
The spongy bounce that undid India in the opening game was absent in the second, which Sri Lanka won against New Zealand. Chasing under lights in Dambulla, however, has proved difficult and the captain that wins the toss is likely to bat.
"I don't think India are going in unprepared. Sides don't practice one day, it doesn't mean you aren't prepared. It will depend on what they are thinking about and the Indian team know that they are a good side.
Kumar Sangakkara doesn't make much of the lack of practice for the Indian team on the eve of the game due to rain.
"We treat him as a part of the side not a back-up bowler. He also qualifies for the game if he does well in the net sessions."
MS Dhoni says Munaf Patel is central to India's plans though he hasn't featured in the series so far.
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo