Sri Lanka v India, 2nd ODI, Colombo January 30, 2009

Sehwag to play, Murali on verge of record

Match facts

Saturday, January 31, 2009
Start time 14:30 local, (09:00 GMT)

The Big Picture

Muttiah Muralitharan is on the verge of becoming the highest wicket-taker in ODIs © AFP

India's 3-2 victory in August last year was their first-ever bilateral series win in Sri Lanka and their chances of making it two in a row will increase significantly if the result of Saturday's day-night contest goes their way. India gain a massive boost with the return of Virender Sehwag - who missed the first ODI due to a hip injury - and a win for them will leave the hosts needing three consecutive victories to prevent defeat; a Sri Lankan success will bring the series back on an even keel.

To beat a clinical Indian outfit, however, Sri Lanka will have to shape up in disciplines that let them down in the first one-dayer in Dambulla. Apart from their batsmen failing to build substantially on Sanath Jayasuriya's century, Sri Lanka also to gave India leeway with loose running between the wickets and sloppy catching, aspects that are usually second nature to them. Tillakaratne Dilshan dropped Suresh Raina early in India's chase, and his run-out earlier in the match was the first of two in the innings, and the seventh of eight in their last six ODIs.

India, on the other hand, did little wrong during their six-wicket victory. There were traces of rustiness in the field, and a couple of batsmen fell to forgettable dismissals, but on the whole, the execution of the chase was calm and efficient even though Sehwag, a critical cog in the batting line-up, was missing. Their handling of Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis - the duo that caused nightmares during the last Test series - was particularly effective: between them, Murali and Mendis took only 1 for 99 in 20 overs.

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Watch out for ...

Muttiah Muralitharan has 501 wickets and is two away from overtaking Wasim Akram to become the highest wicket-taker in ODIs. He took only 1 for 52 in the first ODI but his being so close to the record could inspire him and the rest of the Sri Lankans to raise their game.

Mahela Jayawardene usually bats at No. 4 but he came in at No. 6 in the first ODI, below Thilina Kandamby and Farveez Maharoof, because of his poor form. His barren run has deprived Sri Lanka of a batsman who can shift seamlessly between the responsibilities of steadying an innings and accelerating when needed.

Pragyan Ojha took only 1 for 52 in the first ODI but his solitary wicket was that of Kumar Sangakkara, one which broke a second-wicket partnership of 118. Ojha was not averse to flighting the ball and, in the absence of Harbhajan Singh, this series is Ojha's chance to make an impact.

Team news

The only change for India is the return of Sehwag, in place of Rohit Sharma. Rohit made a calm, unbeaten 25 in Dambulla and supported Mahendra Singh Dhoni well during the run-chase, but on what is expected to be a good batting track, India are almost certain to retain the services of an extra bowler to contain the hosts.

India (probable) 1 Sachin Tendulkar, 2 Virender Sehwag, 3 Gautam Gambhir, 4 Suresh Raina, 5 Yuvraj Singh, 6 Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt & wk), 7 Yusuf Pathan, 8 Pragyan Ojha, 9 Zaheer Khan, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Munaf Patel.

Despite the loss in Dambulla, Sri Lanka are likely to go in with an unchanged side. Their middle order came good in the final two ODIs against Pakistan, and with their fast bowlers in good form, they'll probably resist the temptation to make a change after one defeat.

Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Sanath Jayasuriya, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 5 Thilina Kandamby, 6 Chamara Kapugedera, 7 Thilan Thushara, 8 Farveez Maharoof, 9 Nuwan Kulasekara, 10 Muttiah Muralitharan, 11 Ajantha Mendis.

Pitch & conditions

The pitch at the Premadasa Stadium is a dry one and is expected to favour batting. However, Mahela Jayawardene said the bowlers stood to benefit in the first ten overs under lights. Going by the recent trend, the side winning the toss may well opt to bat first.

Stats & Trivia

  • Sri Lanka have an excellent record at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo: they've won 45 ODIs and lost 19 with a win-loss ratio of 2.36.

  • India's record at the venue is modest: they've won 12 and lost 16. Against Sri Lanka, they've won seven and lost 13.

  • Jayasuriya is the highest run-scorer at the Premadasa, and averages 40.10 at the venue. Sachin Tendulkar tops the list for India, with 872 runs at 48.44.

  • In 24 matches since 2004, a 300-plus total has been achieved only once at the Premadasa Stadium. On average, teams have managed 25.46 per wicket at a rate of 4.49.

  • During the same period, Sri Lanka averaged 26.88 at 4.64, while India have been a shade better with 28.27 at 4.88.

  • Fast bowlers have taken more wickets at the Premadasa since 2004 - 210 out of 334 at an average of 25.28. Spinners have managed 119 wickets at 31.96 apiece.

    Since 2004, the team winning the toss has batted first on 18 out of 24 occasions. In the last five ODIs, teams chose to bat every time and the result went their way on four occasions.


    "We have a lot of talented players in our team, but they need to capitalise after getting set as Sri Lanka have good spinners in their side." Mahendra Singh Dhoni calls for his batsmen to spend more time at the crease.

    "It's not like Mendis and Murali bowled badly in the last match; the Indians were never under pressure and we dropped a few catches. We played well in our last few ODIs (in Pakistan) and hopefully we can carry that form into tomorrow." Mahela Jayawardene is confident despite the blip in Dambulla

    George Binoy is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo