India would look to secure a place in the final when they take on Sri Lanka in Dambulla on Sunday in a what could be a highly-charged match in the cricket tri-series which has been hit by a spate of bizarre controversies and inclement weather. What was regarded as a low profile tournament has suddenly got a lot more attention by a series of controversies in the last few matches, Suraj Randiv's deliberate no-ball that deprived Indian opener Virender Sehwag of a century being the most serious one.
But all the unsavoury incidents of the past few days will be put behind when the two teams brace for the crucial game which the hosts have to win to remain in contention. Persistent rains since the last couple of days forced the Sri Lanka and New Zealand match to be abandoned and the met office forecast of inclement weather for the next four days could lead to more washouts.
The Indians have been bolstered by the return of Yuvraj Singh, who according to captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, was laid low by dengue. The return of Yuvraj, who was declared fit to play on Sunday, would lend solidity to the Indian middle order which looked shaky in their earlier two matches with the likes of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli struggling on the sporting Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium pitch. It will also ease some of the pressure on Dhoni who had to hold the innings together after quick exit of most of the top order batsmen in India's earlier matches.
A win on Sunday will ensure a final berth for India as in that scenario Sri Lanka will be left with six points with no match left while India will have secured at least nine points with another game -- against New Zealand -- to be played. New Zealand are sitting pretty with seven points from three matches.
It will not be a surprise if sparks fly in tomorrow's match which is virtually a semifinal for Sri Lanka after their game against New Zealand on Friday was abandoned due to rain. Sehwag, who had apparently taunted the Lankans for their "unsporting" no-ball act, is unlikely to shy away from trying to assert his authority against the home side having denied a century in the last match between the two sides on Monday.
It would be interesting to see how Sehwag takes on Randiv, who is expected to return to the Sri Lankan playing XI after missing Friday's match against New Zealand due to one-game ban, if the two players face each other.