Sri Lanka strive to keep series alive
Match factsTuesday, July 31
Start time 1430 (0900 GMT)
Big PictureIndia's win on Saturday has left Sri Lanka needing to win both remaining matches if they are to take the series. None of the players involved in the series had made their ODI debuts when India last lost a bilateral series in Sri Lanka - that was way back in 1997, when Sanath Jayasuriya and Aravinda de Silva were at the peak of their powers.
India's successful chase of 287 was the sort of result which would have been extremely unlikely on the pre-World Cup Premadasa track where batting under lights was a challenge. On Saturday, on a pitch with little in it for the bowlers, both sides showed off some high-class one-day batting. Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, as they have done countless times before, revived the Sri Lankan innings with unhurried ease, knocking the singles around. That set the stage for Angelo Mathews and Jeevan Mendis to explode at the end, as India leaked 97 in the final ten. For India, it was Gautam Gambhir who top scored with a controlled innings of 102, where he highlighted his nifty footwork against both pace and spin, before Suresh Raina extended a rewarding recent ODI run, with this third half-century in five innings.
The run-fest raised questions about the strength of both sides' bowling. The spearheads, Zaheer Khan and Lasith Malinga, did their job, but the support seamers rarely threatened and the spinners could, at best, contain the runs. Isuru Udana hasn't been an adequate replacement for the injured Nuwan Kulasekara, and India's gamble on Ashok Dinda didn't pay off either.
Sri Lanka LWLWW (Completed games, most recent first)
Watch out for...Jeevan Mendis took 5 for 76 in the last two ODIs he played in 2011 before he dropped off Sri Lanka's one-day plans, perhaps because he failed with the bat. Given another chance in the final ODI against Pakistan last month, he stepped up with a tight spell, and also a steady 19 towards the end of a tight chase. He boosted his case for a longer run in the side, with a hard-hitting 45 on Saturday, which justified his promotion over the in-form Thisara Perera.
India's death bowling has long been a problem area. In the third ODI, Zaheer bowled eight of his overs in the first two Powerplays, leaving Irfan Pathan and Dinda to finish out the innings. With the strategy of using two fast bowlers to end the innings not working for India, perhaps it is time they used R Ashwin at the death.
Team newsThere have already been plenty of headlines about Rohit Sharma's prolonged lean spell, and his golden duck on Saturday is likely to have opened the door for Manoj Tiwary. Legspinner Rahul Sharma did well enough to merit another chance, but Dinda didn't, which could mean that Umesh Yadav will return.
India: (probable) 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Gautam Gambhir, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 5 Manoj Tiwary, 6 Suresh Raina, 7 Irfan Pathan, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Zaheer Khan, 10 Umesh Yadav, 11 Rahul Sharma
Sangakkara's finger injury means he will miss only his second ODI in more than two years. The only other one he sat out was a one-dayer against Scotland in 2011. He could be replaced by Lahiru Thirimanne, with Dinesh Chandimal stepping in as wicketkeeper. Udana could be left out after two underwhelming matches, with Nuwan Pradeep as his replacement.
Sri Lanka: (probable) 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2 Upul Tharanga, 3 Dinesh Chandimal (wk), 4 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 5 Lahiru Thirimanne, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Jeevan Mendis, 8 Thisara Perera, 9 Nuwan Pradeep, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Rangana Herath
Stats and trivia
- If Gautam Gambhir scores 11 or more on Tuesday, he will become the second quickest Indian to reach 5000 ODI runs.
- Lasith Malinga is four wickets short of 200 ODI scalps. He is on track to become the fifth fastest bowler to reach the milestone, and easily the fastest Sri Lankan.
Quotes"We had a plan to score four to five hundreds as individual batsmen and we have done it twice. Virat [Kohli] and Gautam [Gambhir] scored hundreds, Viru (Virender Sehwag) fell short but, our goal is yet to be reached."
Suresh Raina says the batsmen are chipping in, but the task ahead is to close out the series.
Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo