India vs Sri Lanka: Rohit Sharma under pressure, tricky conditions expected in Mohali

MS Dhoni is Rohit Sharma’s only positive in the series against Sri Lanka cricket team so far, and the one-match-old Indian cricket team skipper would be hoping the senior comes good again in the second ODI in Mohali on Wednesday

india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Dec 12, 2017 20:35 IST
Shalini Gupta
Shalini Gupta
Hindustan Times, Mohali
India vs Sri Lanka,IND vs SL,Rohit Sharma
Indian cricket team stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma with MS Dhoni during a practice session on the eve of the second ODI against Sri Lanka cricket team in Mohali.(PTI)

As Rohit Sharma walked to the middle of the PCA Stadium in Mohali on a gloomy Tuesday afternoon, he stopped to have a look -- not at the covered pitch but the moisture-laden dark clouds. The 24th Indian ODI skipper has only three games to prove his leadership skills.

Dharamsala was forgettable and Mohali, too, hasn’t been forgiving so far due to the inclement weather. Come Wednesday, Rohit would be hoping the weather gods are kind.

A seven-wicket loss in Dharamsala has put the hosts on the back foot. Mohali is the proverbial do-or-die game and the conditions could be more challenging due to the unseasonal rain.

Rohit admits that the result in the first game was an eye-opener for India, which has had an impeccable record against the Lankans.

What would also be of extreme concern for him is the top order’s weakness against the moving ball. The Indian top order succumbed to the pressure created by pacers Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal and Angelo Mathews.

The conditions could be tricky again in Mohali, and it will be interesting to see if Ajinkya Rahane makes it to the eleven. Rohit might consider him as a specialist opener but Rahane’s resilience and technique against pacers makes him eligible to play at No 3 as well.

Add Manish Pandey and Hardik Pandya’s flop-show and it seems the team management has plenty to discuss before the first ball is bowled in Mohali. Pandya scored only 10 when he needed to stay in the middle with Dhoni. He also proved ineffective and costly with the ball.

Pandey too hasn’t done much to live up to his reputation. In eight games this year, he has reached 50 just once.

On Tuesday, coach Ravi Shastri was seen having a chat with openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan during the indoor nets. The team think-tank knows the openers have to fire to achieve a series-levelling victory.

The record favours the hosts --- they have won nine out of 14 games. But for Rohit it hardly matters as the Lankans will strike with full force in a bid to win their maiden ODI series this year.

The silver lining amid the dark clouds is MS Dhoni. His 65 in Dharamsala took India past 100. Eighteen-year-old Washington Sundar --- included in the team in place of Kedar Jhadav --- also believes that Dhoni’s counter-attack worked for India. “He batted very well in tough conditions. If he had got the support of one or two batsmen, India would have scored 60-70 runs more and, I don’t think, Sri Lanka could have chased that total,” said the Tamil Nadu youngster.

With the PCA conditions set to offer assistance to pacers, it will be interesting to see whether India field spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.

It will also be interesting to see if local lad Siddharth Kaul is given a chance. The 27-year-old pacer has been rewarded by selectors keeping in mind his consistency in domestic cricket while playing for Punjab.

First Published: Dec 12, 2017 20:20 IST