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The Preview by Siddarth Ravindran
February 2, 2009
Match factsTuesday, February 3, 2009
The Big PictureIndia took 23 years to secure their first bilateral one-day series win in Sri Lanka, finally accomplishing the feat last August. Less than six months on, the Indian juggernaut stands on the brink of a reprise. Besides clinching the series, a victory at the Premadasa on Tuesday will also equal India's longest winning sequence in one-dayers - eight. Mahendra Singh Dhoni has already warned against complacency, and also said that though India negotiated the threat of Ajantha Mendis and Muttiah Muralitharan well in the first two games, the pair posed a formidable challenge.
Apart from overcoming a slick Indian outfit, Sri Lanka will have to beat history: in 84 five-match series, only twice has a side come back from 2-0 down (South Africa against Pakistan in 2003, and Bangladesh over Zimbabwe in 2005). They will be buoyed by the return to form of Mahela Jayawardene, who ended a lean patch with a battling half-century. The other factors in their favour are that the bowlers are doing an adequate job, and Thilina Kandamby is proving to be a reassuring presence in the middle order. If the move to push Tillakaratne Dilshan up the order pays off as it did in the recent Pakistan series, Sri Lanka will still fancy their chances.
ODI form guide (most recent first)Sri Lanka LLWWL
Watch out for ...After a stop-start career, Suresh Raina is making the most of his second coming. He has managed to keep his place in the middle order despite a clutch of talented youngsters pushing for a place. Besides his batting, he has been an electric presence in the field, and also chipped in with a few tidy overs of offspin.
One of the bright spots for Sri Lanka has been the form of Thilina Kandamby, who was recalled after a four-year gap. He has propped up their fragile middle order, and nearly engineered a victory in Saturday's match with an unflustered 93.
A groin injury has forced Munaf Patel out of the series, and L Balaji has been called in as a replacement. However, it is unlikely he'll play, as India did well to contain the Sri Lankan batsmen in the second ODI with four frontline bowlers and the combination of Yusuf Pathan, Virender Sehwag and Suresh Raina, who bowled 14 overs among them.
India (probable): 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Sachin Tendulkar, 3 Gautam Gambhir, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt & wk), 7 Yusuf Pathan, 8 Zaheer Khan, 9 Praveen Kumar, 10 Pragyan Ojha, 11 Ishant Sharma.
Thilan Thushara has had two disappointing games, conceding 103 runs in 16 overs for one wicket. However, he played a critical role in bowling out Pakistan in the series decider in Lahore. Though he is under scrutiny, he is likely to retain his place.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2 Sanath Jayasuriya, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 5 Thilina Kandamby, 6 Chamara Kapugedera, 7 Farveez Maharoof, 8 Thilan Thushara, 9 Muttiah Muralitharan, 10 Nuwan Kulasekara, 11 Ajantha Mendis.
Stats & Trivia
Pitch and conditions
The third ODI will be played on a different track, but it is expected to behave in a similar manner to the one used in the last match. A score of 260 should be reachable, but fast bowlers may get some assistance for the first few overs under lights.
"We have to be a bit more consistent with our all-round game. That's one area we have to focus on, especially when you are playing against a good team. You can't keep making mistakes."
Mahela Jayawardene calls for more consistency from his players.
"We know we have a lot of work to do but the momentum is with us at the moment. We just have to focus on what we have been doing and give us the best chance of winning the next match."
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