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T20 fireworks begin

High-octane India start favourites against Sri Lanka in the first Twenty20 match on Wednesday in Nagpur. The home team aim to secure the momentum ahead of the five-ODI series, reports Vinod Kumar.

cricket Updated: Dec 09, 2009 00:55 IST
Vinod Kumar

High-octane India start favourites against Sri Lanka in the first Twenty20 match on Wednesday in Nagpur. The home team aim to secure the momentum ahead of the five-ODI series. Sri Lanka, who arrived in India desperate to win a Test, will want to get some success under the belt before the tour ends.

The Sri Lankans have a decent batting lineup, bolstered by veteran Sanath Jayasuriya, and the return to form of skipper Kumar Sangakkara. Dilshan, in particular, holds the key for the visitors.

The explosive opener is enjoying a rich vein of form in all the three formats and Mahendra Singh Dhoni's team has already got a taste of his rasping willow on this tour. If he, along with Jayasuriya, gets going at the top, then there will be no stopping the visitors.

However, when it comes to sheer firepower, it is India who have the big guns. Sri Lanka rely heavily on the top four — Dilshan, Jayasuriya, Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene — while the batsmen who follow can't match the Indians for flexibility or ability.

The Indian batting lineup is well equipped with aggressive and solid players.

Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag will reunite at the top in the shorter version and their current form will be a cause for concern for Sangakkara.

Although India have gained momentum by winning the Test series, they will be without the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman.

Their replacements, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik, will face a test of character, as they haven't been up to the mark in their last few outings.

Sri Lanka's bowling will be strengthened by the return of fast bowler Lasith Malinga. In the bowling too, the visitors are heavily reliant on a couple of star performers. The trio of Muttiah Muralitharan, Nuwan Kulasekara and Ajantha Mendis have struggled on this tour.

The Indian team, which is already without Zaheer Khan, received a jolt on match eve, as Sreesanth missed practice because of a fever. “Sreesanth is not well and we are hoping that he recovers before the game,” said MS Dhoni.

He also sounded confident about Pragyan Ojha. “Ojha is a specialist spinner and has done well when given an opportunity.”