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Old foes meet after break

India get respite from formidable Australia but Sri Lanka will be tough to beat in the CB series tie. Amol Karhadkar reports. Match reckoner | Strategy box | India's adversaries

india Updated: Feb 08, 2012 02:08 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar
Hindustan Times
Amol Karhadkar,Western Australian Cricket Association,india vs sri lanka

After being slaughtered by Australia for almost two months, India get a deserving break in terms of opponent when they face Sri Lanka in a CB Series tie at the Western Australian Cricket Association (WACA) Ground on Wednesday.

But if Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his boys take their neighbours lightly, especially on a wicket that's expected to be as lively as it was during last month's Test, then their hopes to register a comprehensive victory would remain unfulfilled.

Leadership changes
Agreed the Sri Lankan team set-up has seen a number of sudden changes, coach Geoff Marsh was replaced by South African Graham Ford and Mahela Jayawardene was reinstated as captain in place of Tillakaratne Dilshan despite the team's impressive performance on their South Africa tour.

Despite the leadership issues, the fact cannot be ignored that having won a Test in the Rainbow Nation for the first time and registered emphatic victories in the last ODIs, Sri Lanka certainly appear to be a better-prepared side of the two.

Ready to go

Having dealt with the likes of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel on pace-friendly surfaces, the Sri Lankan batsmen seem to have got into groove before starting their tri-series campaign. Add to that their ODI series victory in Australia 18 months ago and you are convinced that despite their dodgy record away from home, the islanders cannot certainly be billed as underdogs.

"We always talk about pitches in Australia where the ball bounces and seams a bit. We have been playing cricket in South Africa where the wickets are a bit bouncy, and I think we have done pretty well in the later stages," vice-captain Angelo Mathews said on Tuesday. "If not for the Duckworth/Lewis method, we could have turned things around. Here it's a bit similar, with the bounce and the pace, so hopefully we can adapt to the conditions quickly."

Top heavy
On the other hand, India have to deal with the problem of plenty at the top of the batting order. It appears that Gautam Gambhir will make way for Virender Sehwag, who was benched for Sunday's tournament opener against the hosts. And it would be crucial for Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar to dominate the robust pace of Lasith Malinga and Thisara Perera - both with Mumbai Indians now - and set the game up for their team.

Sehwag, Dhoni's deputy, wasn't entirely sure about the team combination. "They will decide tomorrow. We are giving breaks to the top three batsmen. Maybe tomorrow is somebody else's turn, Gambhir or Tendulkar take a break and maybe I can play," he said.

The only positive for India ahead of the game was Zaheer Khan's availability for the game. Zaheer, who missed Sunday's game due to a knee problem, bowled at full throttle with rookie Umesh Yadav at the nets. Going by WACA's reputation, don't be surprised if both the speedsters feature in the eleven.

First Published: Feb 07, 2012 23:54 IST