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July 17, 2008
Match factsFriday July 18 - Sunday July 20, 2008
Big PictureAfter three hectic months of Twenty20 and one-dayers, this is India's only warm-up game before the Tests against Sri Lanka. It is also the only chance for several of India's players who have had an enforced break from cricket - Sachin Tendulkar (groin injury), Zaheer Khan (ankle injury), Harbhajan Singh (disciplinary ban), and VVS Laxman (fractured wrist) - to get some match practice under their belts. That means India might want to opt for the same XI they have in mind for next week's Test.
Captain Anil Kumble has been stressing that the Test outfit has been performing consistently over the past year and will be keen to redress India's poor record in Sri Lanka, where they haven't won a series in 15 years.
For the home side, the match will be a chance for Upul Tharanga, who has been out of the Test side since last December, to make his case. Chamara Kapugedera has become a regular starter in Sri Lanka's one-day unit and will be trying to use this game to stake his claim for a Test spot. At least two other members of the team - fast bowler Dilhara Fernando and batsman Chamara Silva - are also likely to feature in the Test series.
One to watchNearly twenty years on the international circuit have taken their toll on Sachin Tendulkar, and he has been struggling with a groin injury for the past few months. The only cricket he has played after the Indian Premier League is a few leisurely games with Lashings. This match will give a better indication of whether he's fit enough to return to the rigours of Test cricket next week. He's within touching distance of Brian Lara's record Test aggregate and will want to use this game to get into the groove.
Team newsGautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag get a chance on this tour to translate their opening form in the limited-overs versions of the game to Tests. The experienced middle-order picks itself while the absence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni leaves Dinesh Karthik and Parthiv Patel vying for the wicketkeeper's spot. Zaheer Khan will reclaim his place as the pace spearhead with Ishant Sharma likely to be his sidekick. India's spin threat will come from the old firm of Kumble and Harbhajan.
India (probable) 1 Gautam Gambhir, 2 Virender Sehwag, 3 Rahul Dravid, 4 Sachin Tendulkar, 5 Sourav Ganguly, 6 VVS Laxman, 7 Dinesh Karthik/Parthiv Patel (wk), 8 Anil Kumble (capt), 9 Harbhajan Singh, 10 Zaheer Khan, 11 Ishant Sharma
Sri Lanka Board XI squad Mahela Udawatte, Upul Tharanga, Jehan Mubarak (capt), Chamara Kapugedera, Chamara Silva, Thilina Kandamby, Kaushal Silva (wk), Chanaka Welegedera, Sujeewa Silva, Dammika Prasad, Rangana Herath, Dilhara Fernando
"We have Zaheer Khan back in the team with his experience of bowling in subcontinental conditions, Ishant Sharma who has really progressed well as a seamer, and Harbhajan Singh is back as well."
Anil Kumble talks up his bowling attack
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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