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Asia Cup: Player fitness should be priority as India take on Sri Lanka

India and Sri Lanka last met less than a month ago for a three-match Twenty20 series. The result then had matched the make-up of the two sides. A full strength India outplayed a second-string the visiting outfit comfortably.

cricket Updated: Mar 01, 2016 16:00 IST
Kushal Phatarpekar
Kushal Phatarpekar
Hindustan Times
Asia Cup,Rohit Sharma,Shikhwar Dhawan
India’s Shikhar Dhawan was forced to sit out the match against Pakistan on Saturday due to a strain to his left ankle, but could return against Sri Lanka on Tuesday.(AFP)

India and Sri Lanka last met less than a month ago in India for a three-match T20 series. The result then had matched the make-up of the two sides. A full strength India had outplayed a second-string visiting outfit comfortably.

Ahead of the Asia Cup, most of the islanders’ senior members have returned. However, the team’s form continues to be lacklustre.

India, who have begun the tournament with two wins in two games, will be hoping to make the most of their opponent’s vulnerability and further their chances of sealing a berth in the final.

Team India too, has a few problems to worry about. They have a few injury worries to contend with. Both their openers have been hit by injuries in the past few days.

Rohit Sharma, who was hit on his left toe by a snorting yorker off Mohammad Amir during the India-Pakistan clash on Saturday, was taken for an X-ray on Sunday, but was cleared of any serious injury. However, he skipped practice on Monday.

Shikhar Dhawan, who did not play on Saturday due to a strain to his left ankle returned to training on Monday, but did so with strapping around his foot and with the team physio’s attention on him throughout.

While both injuries are not serious , a hit to both openers so close to the World T20 does warrant a little pause and reflection.

Other than Ajinkya Rahane, India have no other batting options in the reserves. So, despite the proximity of the World T20 and their strong position in the Asia Cup, India might still be forced to field the duo on Tuesday if they do not want to compromise on the number of batsmen in the playing XI.

Read: Good to see bowlers becoming relevant again: Javagal Srinath

Sri Lanka, who lost against Bangladesh on Sunday, have their own casualties. Skipper and pace spearhead Lasith Malinga, who made a sensational return from injury in their opening tie against UAE, skipped the game against Bangladesh after a flare up of his knee injury. The team management has yet to give him the green light and will assess his progress a few hours before the game on Tuesday.

The Sri Lanka team manager has stated that they will not risk fielding him if his recovery is not 100% in time for the game.

In Malinga’s absence, Sri Lanka failed to keep Bangladesh’s batsmen in check. Against an in-form India side, their task might be even further cut out for them. India’s middle order with Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh showed tremendous resolve on Saturday as they led India out of a difficult situation against Pakistan. Their bowling was spot on, with the pacers combining well to bowl out Pakistan for just 83.

They will back themselves to maintain form, however, they will have to do so with caution with an eye on the fitness of its players, which should be a priority ahead of the World T20.

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First Published: Mar 01, 2016 15:56 IST