Pallekelle: Virat Kohli’s Team India will look to extend their lead in the ODI series against Sri Lanka when the Men in Blue take on the hosts in the second ODI here on Thursday. Having maintained a 100 percent win record in this series, the Indian cricket team has enjoyed their time in Sri Lanka so far, both on and off the field.
Sri Lanka, meanwhile, has had a summer to forget. After losing the ODI series against Zimbabwe 3-2 with a below par performance, and despite winning the only Test against the African side, the Island nation continued to slump in form, with inconsistency and injuries haunting them. Clearly, it will be tough for the Upul Tharanga-led ODI side to take any positives from the first ODI, after having collapsed from 139-2 to 217 all out.
India will treat this series as a dress rehearsal for the upcoming 2019 cricket World Cup, as they still search for a perfect playing XI side.
For Sri Lanka, meanwhile, this is a do-or-die series. The 1996 World Cup champions will have to win at least two matches in the series if they are to keep alive hopes of qualifying for the global ICC showpiece event.
While India’s strong point has been the top-order batting, with Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli starring in the previous match, the Men in Blue also possess one of the strong bowling attacks in ODIs, with most of the bowlers stepping up, including Axar Patel, who finished with 3-34 in the first ODI.
Sri Lanka, meanwhile have a lot of questions to be answered. Right from their sloppy fielding to their eventual collapse in the first ODI, a lot would concern the Lankan team. Since the hosts lost Niroshan Dickwella for 64 in the 25th over, none of the batsmen could prolong their stay at the crease, despite good starts from Danushka Gunatrhilaka (35), Angelo Mathews (36) and Kusal Mendis (36).
Sri Lanka, however, will hope to repeat the result of the encounter between the two sides in the ICC Champions Trophy recently, while India try to solve the puzzle of a perfect playing XI, heading to the ICC World Cup 2019 in England.
India: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shardul Thakur.
Sri Lanka: Upul Tharanga (c), Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Chamara Kapugedera, Milinda Siriwardana, Malinda Pushpakumara, Akila Dananjaya, Lakshan Sandakan, Thisara Perera, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lasith Malinga, Dushmantha Chameera, Vishwa Fernando....