Teams seek fresh start in Colombo
Match factsSaturday, July 28
Start time 1430 (0900 GMT)
After two contrasting matches in Hambantota, the teams gear up for another double-header at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, with the series neatly tied up at 1-1. Sri Lanka will be the more confident of the two sides after the nine-wicket hiding they dished out to India in the previous outing, but India have a superior record at the Premadasa, where the heat and humidity and shorter boundaries will feel more comfortable after blustery Hambantota.
India have won the last five matches at the Premadasa where they have used their preferred method - bat first, score big and let the pressure of the chase stifle the opposition. However, the pitch was relaid before the World Cup and run scoring at the Premadasa since then has not been easy; both seamers and slow bowlers were among wickets during the recent ODIs against Pakistan. After their struggle in the last ODI in Hambantota on a pitch that offered some help, the Premadasa pitch could offer another stiff challenge to India's batsmen.
Sri Lanka have only three wins out of nine - all batting first - against India in the last five years at the Premadasa, the last of those was when Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis were around to block India's escape routes in the middle overs. Sri Lanka would hope for similar pressure from their in-form bowler Thisara Perera. In the last two games, their batting was more consistent compared to the Indians, and their bowlers extracted movement from a pitch on which India's bowling appeared insipid.
But just as a big loss puts pressure on those who fail to perform, like Rohit Sharma in India's case, a big win hides deficiencies. Mahela Jayawardene would have welcomed the chase that ended within 20 overs in the previous game, but the batting form of Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews and Lahiru Thirimanne remains untested and the Sri Lanka captain would hope for some runs from the young middle-order batsmen.
Sri Lanka WLWWW (Completed games, most recent first)
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Upul Tharanga endured a tough series against Pakistan recently and was under pressure to hold his spot in the team. But an unbeaten half-century chasing India's modest total may have just boosted not only his confidence, but also Mahela Jayawardene's faith on the batting order.
While Virat Kohli has been hogging the limelight recently, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni's partnership down the order has gone unnoticed. The two have helped India convert good starts to tall totals and since CB series in Australia, they have scored 169 runs together from 17 overs. With Sri Lanka lacking express pace to bounce either of the two, the partnership will continue to a pose serious threat.
India: (probable) 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Gautam Gambhir, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 5 Rohit Sharma, 6 Suresh Raina, 7 Irfan Pathan, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Zaheer Khan, 10 Umesh Yadav, 11 Pragyan Ojha
Sri Lanka are likely to continue with the same squad that played in the second ODI.
Sri Lanka: (probable) 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2 Upul Tharanga, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Dinesh Chandimal, 5 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 6 Lahiru Thirimanne, 7 Angelo Mathews, 8 Thisara Perera, 9 Isuru Udana, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Rangana Herath
Stats and trivia
- The average run-rate in 1st/2nd innings at the Premadasa from 2007 till before the World Cup was 5.22/4.58. Since the pitch was relaid, the average run-rate has changed to 4.37/4.81
- Angelo Mathews averages 33.56 with the bat after 78 matches. Against India, his average drops to 29.54. In Sri Lanka, it drops further to 26.35
Quotes"When it comes to the [India] top order, they make a huge difference. If we can get a few wickets early on, we can put pressure the middle order batsmen."
"We need to remember that we are coming in after a two month break while Sri Lanka have been playing very good cricket and have beaten a very good side like Pakistan."
Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo