India aim to seal the deal in Pallekele with Sri Lanka cricket in disarray
India, led by Virat Kohli, are 1-0 ahead in the ODI cricket series against Sri Lanka. Wins in the two ODIs at Pallekele will ensure the Men in Blue pocketing five-match seriesindia vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Aug 23, 2017 17:40 IST
India hold all the aces as they go into Thursday’s second One-day International against Sri Lanka with Virat Kohli’s team in a position to wrap up the series by winning the next two games at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.
India will play the last two matches in the ODI series and a one-off Twenty20 game in Colombo before flying home.
India crushed the hosts by nine wickets in the first game at Dambulla on Sunday and an opposition in disarray gives Virat Kohli and the team management another opportunity to fine-tune performances with the 2019 World Cup the target.
India will be particularly high on confidence returning to a venue where they clinched the final Test in three days to achieve their first-ever Test series sweep away from home. Besides, they also won the only ODI they played in Pallekele, which is just off Kandy.
WORLD CUP BERTH
Sri Lanka, who have barely competed against India on this tour and lost the Test series 0-3, are under pressure on three fronts. They have to win two matches in the five-game series if they are to pip West Indies and claim the eighth direct spot for the World Cup by the September 30 deadline.
Virat Kohli’s aim before the series was to give players opportunities and test others in specific roles. Among batsmen, Rohit Sharma will look to make amends for his early run out in Dambulla while in-form KL Rahul, who didn’t get to bat in that game, will be eager to get a hit.
The skipper hit an unbeaten 82 while opener Shikhar Dhawan struck 132 not out.
All-rounder Hardik Pandya is very much a work in progress as an ODI pace bowler and could continue to open the bowling. India will need all the pacers to be fit and ready to go in the next few months. And even Shardul Thakur would hope to get a game in the series.
Sri Lanka ODI skipper Upul Tharanga was hopeful his team will somehow find a way out and hinted there could be some changes in the line-up. Sri Lankan batsmen were guilty of playing rash shots, leaving their under-cooked bowling unit with just 216 to defend.
“As a team I have faith in the players… We were in a good position at one stage in the first ODI but unfortunately we collapsed.”
Tharanga acknowledged a direct World Cup spot was in danger. “As a team, we go to each match to win. We are not thinking too far. Thursday’s contest is vital for us because we lost the first. To qualify for the 2019 World Cup, we have to win two matches and all the players are aware of it.”
Sri Lanka spearhead Lasith Malinga’s poor efforts have also added to the pressure on a bowling unit weakened by injuries to leading new ball bowlers, Dhammika Prasad and Nuwan Pradeep. Malinga failed to take a wicket in his 200th ODI in Dambulla.
“There are occasions where the decision we take don’t work out as planned and sometimes we don’t have luck on our side. If you look at the past results, we have been in good positions in the first 20-25 overs and from there onwards only we have lost grip, and batsmen have played irresponsible shots. To get to a big total, we need the top four to fire.”
“We have not taken a final decision, but there will be changes.”
First Published: Aug 23, 2017 17:34 IST