India vs Sri Lanka: Hosts eye redemption, visitors look for series win
After posting a thumping win in the first Test at Galle, Virat Kohli-led India will look to seal the series when they take on Sri Lanka in the second match at Colombo.Updated: Aug 02, 2017 18:45 IST
Sri Lanka have a lot to prove when they take on India in the second Test at their official cricket headquarters – the Sinhalese Sports Club. Annihilated in the opening contest of the series, the home team’s pride has been pricked, being outplayed in all departments.
For the visitors, the No 1 side in the world for a while now, the thrust will be on consistency, which is the hallmark of champion sides.
The threat to the series is how predictable it might get unless Sri Lanka improve drastically. But there are few signs to point towards that after the debacle in Galle.
Seldom has there been such a one-sided game in the history of India-Sri Lanka cricket, least of all at home for the island nation.
In this backdrop, Dinesh Chandimal will be back at the helm, and the enormity of the task is not lost on the skipper. Facing Virat Kohli’s India in sub-continental conditions is a task the best of the teams dread, and so far Sri Lanka have looked a shadow of the team they were in the last series in 2015.
However, India won’t expect an easy outing as Chandimal’s addition will lend steel to the middle order.
The last time Kohli & Co played here, the wicket tested the technique of batsmen with pacers enjoying assistance on all four days. This time, Sri Lanka cannot afford that option. Historically, India’s batting and spin bowling have been strong, but this side gets its edge from its pace attack. Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav are incisive with the new ball and skillful with the old ball. They have a good back-up in Hardik Pandya.
The home team is expected to gamble with spin, captain Dinesh Chandimal hinting at handing a debut to left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpakumara to support Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera.
It remains to be seen if India will counter the move by adding chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav or rely on spin twins R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
The toss will be a crucial factor, as seen in Galle where India batted first to bury the opposition under runs. If the SSC plays to its nature, it can be hard work for the bowlers. It is a surface where batsmen love to bat --- Mahela Jayawardene has 11 Test hundreds on his home ground and Sachin Tendulkar averaged 99.71 with four hundreds in five Tests.
While the might of this India batting line-up is a challenge for any attack, the Sri Lanka think-tank will spend considerable energy planning for Cheteshwar Pujara. Kohli had started the home season as the premier batsman of the team, a wicket every team wanted desperately early on. But since the last four Tests, Pujara has put a price on his wicket. The numbers tell the tale, a match-winning 92 at Bangalore, double century at Ranchi and 153 in the opening Test at Galle. He will have added inspiration here as it is his 50th Test.
The batting will be further bolstered by the return of opener KL Rahul, who is expected to partner Shikhar Dhawan.
The neighbours have played eight games here, winning two apiece with four draws.
First Published: Aug 02, 2017 18:29 IST