The World Cup finalists clash again after nearly a year on a 'different' turf. While Sri Lanka will be itching to start the tri-series tournament on a winning note, India will be eager to get back to winning ways after the loss in the opening game against Australia. So, both sides will get onto the field with lot of intensity. The pitch at Perth will play true and stroke-players should get full value for their shots.
Sri Lanka have undergone a lot of changes since the World Cup. After the mega event, Tillakaratne Dilshan took charge of the team and now they have Mahela Jayawardene as the skipper. This is Mahela's second stint as skipper. He had given up the hot seat the first time because he was not enjoying the job. He has matured since and he proved it in IPL4 where he did a commendable job as captain of the Kochi Tuskers. My feeling is that Sri Lanka will give Australia and India a run for their money in the tournament.
Sri Lanka have had a good tour of South Africa. They won the Durban Test and also bounced back to win the last two One-dayers in the five-match series. One thing is for sure that Sri Lanka will not be short of practice on bouncy pitches as they have had a long stint in South Africa recently and faced the likes of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander. Their bowling, led by Lasith Malinga and having the likes of Nuwan Kulasekara and Chanaka Welegedara, will be formidable. It's young and enterprising but it will be interesting to see what length they bowl to the Indians. The Lankan batting looks very capable on paper with the likes of Dilshan, Sanga, Mahela, Tharanga, Samaraweera and Chandimal in the ranks.
India have a few problems to sort and the first among them is team composition. Will Virender Sehwag come back at the expense of Suresh Raina? Raina's fielding has been excellent but one has to keep in mind that only exuberance doesn't win you matches. Good bowling and fielding have to be backed by solid batting and that has not happened for India on this tour. Sehwag's return will also help Tendulkar settle down on one side and take charge. A good opening partnership will take away the pressure from the middle-order.
I am sure Dhoni will not get onto the Perth pitch with three regular spinners. I would like to see Zaheer Khan leading the attack along with Vinay and Praveen Kumar. If Zak is not available, get Irfan Pathan and utilise his left-hand bowling and batting capability. Rahul Sharma has looked impressive and he should get the nod ahead of R Ashwin.
(360 Corporate Relations. The writer is a former India captain)