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India vs Sri Lanka: Can Virat Kohli break his record of ODI tons vs SL? 5 key battles

Ahead of India’s five-ODI series against Sri Lanka starting Sunday, a look at the five key player battles to watch out for

india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Aug 19, 2017 15:04 IST
Bihan Sengupta
Bihan Sengupta
Hindustan Times
India vs Sri Lanka,Sri Lanka vs India,Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli’s duel with Lasith Malinga will be an interesting one to watch out for in the five-ODI series between India vs Sri Lanka, starting August 20. (HT Photo )

Virat Kohli-led India will hope to complete their terrific run down south when they take on Sri Lanka in a five-match ODI series, starting August 20. The visitors won the Test series 3-0.

(Read | This day, that chair: Virat Kohli finds his debut ‘seat’ ahead of Dambulla ODI)

Sri Lanka are currently ranked eighth in the ICC ODI rankings and need to win at least two matches to earn a direct qualification for the 2019 World Cup. Even a single victory might seal the deal for them as the West Indies, the only other contenders for the spot, would then have to win their one-off tie against Ireland and all the five matches against England.

(Read | India hit high notes on fitness ahead of ODI cricket series against Sri Lanka)

However, given the kind of situation the team is in at the moment, the islanders would not just want to earn direct qualification, but would also look to put up a better show compared to what transpired in the three-Test series. Here’s look at the five key battles to watch out for -

Virat Kohli vs Lasith Malinga

The clash between the two prolific cricketers will be an interesting one to watch out for. Kohli, who scored a century in the first Test, would want to have a few knocks to show for as his three other innings accounted for just 58 runs. Malinga, on the other hand, is an experienced customer who knows exactly what the Indian skipper has up his sleeves.

(Read | MS Dhoni faces acid test in Sri Lanka ODI series with eye on 2019 ICC World Cup)

Kusal Mendis vs Bhuvneshwar Kumar

The performance put up by the home team in the Test series was nothing but shambolic. Yet, there were a few positives for them in the name of Kusal Mendis and Dimuth Karunaratne. Mendis struck a fantastic ton in the second innings of the Colombo Test, albeit his side was trailing by 439 runs.

Kusal Mendis (L) would like to continue his splendid form but Bhuvneshwar Kumar, for sure, will have other ideas. (HT Photo )

The islanders would hope that he continues to play in the same manner but the Indians will be aware that he has a particular weakness against pacers and has fallen to them on four of the last six occasions. With Bhuvneshwar Kumar having the ability to swing it both ways, it might not be an easy task for the Sri Lankan No. 3.

(Read | Manish Pandey keeps patience as his mantra ahead of India vs Sri Lanka ODI)

Angelo Mathews vs Hardik Pandya

Both all-rounders Angelo Mathews (L) and Hardik Pandya will hold the key to their team’s chances. (HT Photo )

Both of them bat lower down the order, come in as the first change in bowling and have often been handed over the duty to bowl at the death. Hardik Pandya, who recently struck his maiden hundred in Test cricket, would want to build on his role as a handy all-rounder while Angelo Mathews would be well aware of the kind of responsibility he has to shoulder for the team.

(Read | Virat Kohli continues to top ICC ODI rankings for batsmen)

Upul Tharanga vs Kuldeep Yadav

Kuldeep Yadav (R) will be in no mood to allow Upul Tharanga to be in his comfort zone. (HT Photo )

With five wickets in his debut Test on foreign soil, Kuldeep Yadav would be booming with confidence as he heads into the ODI series. With Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja being rested, Kuldeep should be an easy pick for the selectors. With his natural ability of taking the ball away from left-handed batsmen, Sri Lanka skipper Upul Tharanga might face a tough time facing the 22-year-old.

(Read | Sri Lanka face uphill task for direct qualification for 2019 World Cup)

Shikhar Dhawan vs Lakshan Sandakan

Shikhar Dhawan will face a stiff challenge from chinaman Lakshan Sandakan. (HT Photo )

In his last five knocks against Sri Lanka, Shikhar Dhawan has notched up three centuries — two in the recently concluded Test series and the other in the Champions Trophy clash. Dhawan has been in a superb form since the Indian Premier League (IPL) and would look to continue to bat in the same manner. However, he would try and avoid facing Lakshan Sandakan, who has the knack of troubling left-handed batsmen.

First Published: Aug 19, 2017 13:00 IST