Young Sri Lanka must play with arrogance against India in ICC Champions Trophy 2017
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Young Sri Lanka must play with arrogance against India in ICC Champions Trophy 2017

Former Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara believes that playing a “really positive brand of cricket” is the only way they can upset India in the ICC Champions Trophy.

icc champions trophy 2017 Updated: Jun 06, 2017 17:07 IST
Champions Trophy 2017,ICC Champions Trophy,India vs Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka can upset India if they play positively in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017, writes Kumar Sangakkara .(REUTERS)

Sri Lanka go into the do-or-die game against India with a few concerns having lost their opening match versus South Africa.

Firstly, they have their stand-in captain Upul Tharanga suspended for the remaining group stage matches for slow over-rate and, then, they also have concerns about Angelo Mathews’ fitness.

If Angelo, Sri Lanka’s best batsman and captain, is deemed unavailable, it could severely hamper the team’s chances.

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Even if Angelo is considered fit, the threat of slow over-rate will be a major concern. Having Tharanga suspended is a huge waste. With quite an experienced and senior bowling attacked led by Lasith Malinga, a team constituting two spinners, it is unacceptable that Sri Lanka were late by 39 minutes.

Even though the captain is penalised more for such offences, it should be the responsibility of senior bowlers to push themselves. The wicket-keeper and fielders also have to play their part with sustained urgency.

Sri Lanka will take heart from the effort of their fast bowlers, especially Nuwan Pradeep, who was threatening throughout against South Africa.

However, the bowlers’ inability to strike in the first 10 overs will be a concern when faced with such a strong batting line-up like India’s. There might be a strong case to bring in all-rounder Thissera Perera along with all-rounder Seekuge Prasanna will give them more variety.

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India, however, will come into the match as favourites after an almost flawless display against Pakistan.

From India’s perspective, the fact that Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan managed a strong opening partnership once again was very encouraging given the strength of their batting combination has been vital in their past successes.

The rest of their batsmen led by Virat Kohli also look in form.

India’s bowling has been a revelation in recent years in the sense that, while earlier its strength laid in the spinners, right now it also has a varied and highly effective pace attack.

The Oval is a happy hunting ground for both teams and the surface on the day might make India think about bringing R Ashwin back into the fold.

However, it will be a pleasing selection issue for captain Kohli as the choices in front of him will in no way dilute their strength. He has lots of good options.

Sri Lanka will have to regroup and rethink their make-up and strategy, and take heart from the few positives from their outing against South Africa, in particular a strong fielding effort, smart execution of bowling, and the flamboyance of Niroshan Dickwella.

I would personally like this young Sri Lanka side to walk out at The Oval and play with the arrogance and abandon of youth. They should express their talent and play a really positive brand of cricket. If they are able to do this, then they have a chance of pulling off an upset. But it will not be easy to beat an India team that so confidently overwhelmed Pakistan on Sunday.

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First Published: Jun 06, 2017 12:53 IST