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India look to extend dominance over Sri Lanka in ODI series

After drubbing Sri Lanka 3-0 in the Test series, India will look to continue their dominance over the hosts in the One-Day International series which commences on Sunday.

india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Aug 19, 2017 18:47 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times, Dambulla
India vs Sri Lanka,Sri Lanka vs India,SLvIND
Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli (L) with wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni during a practice session ahead of the first ODI at the Rangiri Dambulla Cricket Stadium in Dambulla.(AFP)

India openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma will reunite at the top as Virat Kohli’s side aims to repeat its dominance over Sri Lanka in the five-match One-day International series starting at the Dambulla International Stadium on Sunday.

India, the No 3 team in the ICC ODI rankings, will have a point to prove after Sri Lanka upstaged them in the group stages of the ICC Champions Trophy, where the hosts were still eliminated while India finished runners-up.

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Dhawan and Rohit have been the vital aspect of India’s ODI campaigns for a while, but their century partnership in that match against Sri Lanka did not prove enough.

Tough times

Sri Lankan cricket is passing through dire times, and new skipper Upul Tharanga, who stuggled in the Test series, will have his task cut out. The former winners, currently ranked eighth, must win at least two matches to finish among the top-eight teams in the ICC rankings ahead of the September 30 cut-off for a direct entry to the 2019 World Cup.

The depth in the Indian batting has left even a player of Ajinkya Rahane’s quality without a guarantee he will play. With KL Rahul assured of the No 4 slot, Rahane will hope to get the nod ahead of Manish Pandey – in-form and a brilliant fielder – as well as Kedar Jadhav – a big-hitter who can also bowl spin.

With the vice-captaincy going to Rohit, Rahane, India’s key middle-order batsman in Tests who sat out most of the ICC Champions Trophy games but was the highest scorer in the West Indies series that followed, is no certainty in the eleven.

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Hungry bunch

All-rounder Hardik Pandya, who made a splash in the Test series with a racy debut century in the Pallekele victory, and chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav will look to extend their fine form.

With Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav as well as R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja not playing, the likes of Axar Patel and Yuzvendra Chahal can hope to get a look-in alongside Shardul Thakur, the 25-year-old Mumbai pacer who is yet to play for India.

Sri Lanka will be boosted by the experienced Lasith Malinga, but will have to bat far better than they did in the Test series to make it an even contest and ensure they don’t have to fight the qualification battle for the World Cup spot.

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Kusal Perera and Dhanushka Gunathilaka, whose half-centuries helped Sri Lanka upstage India in the Champions Trophy, as well as Angelo Mathews, who gave up captaincy after the humiliating home ODI series loss to Zimbabwe, will have to come good.

The Indian bowling attack will be eager, and will be backed by the new-found intensity for fielding. However, Sri Lanka have had the upper hand at Dumbulla, where they hold a 7-4 win-loss record.

First Published: Aug 19, 2017 18:38 IST