India, after a comfortable nine-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the first One-day International (ODI) at Dambulla, will look to dominate the hosts yet again when they play the second ODI at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium on Thursday. Shikhar Dhawan pummeled the Lankan bowlers into submission in the first game with an unbeaten 132 and skipper Virat Kohli scored an unbeaten 82. Sri Lankan captain Upul Tharanga, on his part, will look to halt their losing run. It is difficult to see any changes to the Indian playing XI.
Kohli had resisted the urge to chop and change too much, even during the series in the West Indies.
It is a similar scenario here as well. At Dambulla, India preferred not to go in with two leg-spinners or two left-arm spinners, thus forming the Chahal-Patel combination of orthodox leg break and left-arm spin.
Additionally, the ODI wickets in Sri Lanka do not afford the luxury of playing three spinners. Thus, unless the Pallekele wicket is exceptionally dry, Kuldeep Yadav can expect to be left out once again, along with Manish Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane and Shardul Thakur.
It will be interesting if Kohli shuffles his batting order a bit to give KL Rahul and Kedar Jadhav some batting time considering the inept Sri Lankan bowling which has failed to get the visitors out.
There have been questions raised about Sri Lanka’s team selection policies.
Test skipper, and one of Sri Lanka’s most attacking batsmen Dinesh Chandimal, was left out of the playing XI as ODI captain Upul Tharanga – generally an opener – came out to bat at No 4, where Chandimal bats.
This has set tongues wagging that all is not well in the Sri Lankan dressing room and that the coach and captain are being over-ridden by others. Chief coach Nick Pothas openly questioned the decision of leaving out Chandimal in the post-match conference.
When asked about the influence of team manager Gurusinha and chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya, he came up with the classic “too many cooks” quote.
However, it doesn’t take spotlight away from the simple fact that Sri Lanka once again failed to provide adequate challenge for the Indian team.
If the Test series was evidence of the gap between the number 1 and 7 ranked teams, then on evidence of the Dambulla game alone, the ICC ODI rankings of India and Sri Lanka – Nos 3 and 8 respectively – are justified too.
This series too has all the makings of another one-sided contest and is not making for a good spectacle for the home fans, who clearly let their displeasure known during the first ODI.
Sri Lanka need to win two ODIs in this series to make sure that West Indies do not overhaul them in the rankings and gain automatic qualification for the 2019 ICC World Cup before the September 30 deadline.
The hosts need more responsibility and stability in their batting ranks, and could look to bring back Chandimal, if only to quieten down the heated atmosphere surrounding the team’s dismal performances recently.
India: Virat Kohli (capt), 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 (capt), 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.