Indian cricket team faces familiar rivals Sri Lanka under new captain Rohit Sharma
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Indian cricket team faces familiar rivals Sri Lanka under new captain Rohit Sharma

The Indian cricket team will eye another whitewash against Sri Lanka in the three-match ODI series, starting in Dharamsala on Sunday. Rohit Sharma will lead India in Virat Kohli’s absence while Thisara Perera will captain the visitors.

india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Dec 09, 2017 19:33 IST
Abhishek Paul
Abhishek Paul
Hindustan Times, Dharamsala
India vs Sri Lanka,Rohit Sharma,Shikhar Dhawan
With an additional responsibility of captaincy, it’ll be interesting to see how Rohit Sharma fares when India take on Sri Lanka in the three-ODI series, starting on Sunday. (PTI)

The HPCA Stadium here is no stranger to new captains. The last time India played at the picturesque venue, against Australia in a Test in March, Ajinkya Rahane replaced an injured Virat Kohli as captain. This time, Rohit Sharma will take the rested superstar’s place against Sri Lanka. (INDIA vs SRI LANKA FULL COVERAGE)

It will be the opener’s maiden stint as India ODI captain against an opposition who are looking for redemption. They too have a new ODI skipper in Thisara Perera, who has the responsibility of inspiring a team that has not won any ODI series in 2017.

(Read | Rohit Sharma betters Virat Kohli in ODIs, but task cut out as India captain)

The hosts start favourites after clean-sweeping Sri Lanka in an away ODI series a couple of months back. Kohli led the team in that contest and if the current side needs some extra push in his absence, the fact that India has a chance to end the year as No. 1 with a 3-0 series triumph will suffice.

Dhawan’s fever, Jadhav out

However, the hosts face some issues. Shikhar Dhawan was down with viral fever and missed Friday’s net session. On Saturday too he joined the net session late, and saw the likes Ajinkya Rahane, Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer going through the paces first.

(Read | After Pune fiasco, Dharamsala curator tight-lipped on pitch)

He, though, had an extended nets session later. Jadhav also had a heavily strapped left thigh and was taken off from practice on Friday. On Saturday, Jadhav was replaced by all-rounder Washington Sundar. Jadhav is suffering from hamstring injury.

The 18-year-old Sundar recently got his maiden national call-up for the upcoming T20 series against Sri Lanka.

India’s bench strength

Even if India miss out on the two players, the hosts would still be in an advantageous position. Bench strength has been one area where Indian team has made rapid progress in recent times.

(Read | Why Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team far behind Ricky Ponting’s Australia)

The smooth transgression of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal into becoming India’s prime limited overs spinning option only validates the fact.

Iyer’s debut?

Young batting talent – Shreyas Iyer, who has so far played three T20s for India, could be seen spending some extra time at nets on Saturday and he may get his debut.

(Read | Ravi Shastri expects Indian cricket team to export home dominance overseas)

With Jadhav absent, he will be expected to be part of a middle-order that would have Manish Pandey and Dinesh Karthik.

Dhananjaya out, Lakmal fit

Dhananjaya de Silva’s glute muscle injury, which forced him to retire hurt in the Kotla Test, will keep him out of the first ODI too.

However, fast bowler Suranga Lakmal is fit for the first ODI. He too had to be taken off the field while bowling during the Kotla Test after some pollution related complications.

Mathews to bowl

All is, however, not bleak for Sri Lanka. They will have an extra bowling option as their senior-most player and former captain Angelo Mathews is likely to roll his arms in the first ODI.

He did not bowl in the Test series but shall do so in the limited-overs format. The visitors have also been boosted by the return of senior batsman Kusal Perera, allrounder Asela Gunaratne and fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep as they seek to turn the tables on the hosts.

Captain Perera has not been in the best of forms and would like to change the record as he makes a fresh start against the hosts.

First Published: Dec 09, 2017 15:26 IST