The teams have met seven times in the last year and a half. While the hosts are coming off successful test and ODI series against Pakistan, the visitors are injury free, and raring to go. However, with the rainy season underway in Sri Lanka, we are not certain how much cricketing action will be possible, and the Duckworth-Lewis rule could play a huge role in deciding the outcome of the series.
Sri Lanka’s batting will revolve around Sangakkara and Jayawardene while Dilshan’s good form against Pakistan bodes well for the hosts. Dinesh Chandimal has cemented his place as a consistent performer in the middle order, and the lower middle will brought up by Mathews and Thisara Perera, both hard hitters of the ball.
Perera will also pose a threat with the ball if his form against Pakistan is anything to go by. The redoubtable Malinga will share the new ball with Kulasekara, while the hosts will also bank on the spin of Herath and Senanayake, though against the Indians they will be up against some of the best players of the turning ball. Left arm pacer Isuru Udana gives the Lankan selectors yet another option.
With Sachin sitting out the series, the onus will be on Sehwag and Gambhir to provide the visitors with good starts. Kohli who has been appointed vice-captain for the series will look to continue his recent good form, while the series will be a great opportunity for the likes of Sharma, Raina and Tiwary to cement their places in the national squad, for some time to come. On the slow-paced Hambantota wicket, Dhoni could play a crucial role lower down the order.
Zaheer Khan will lead the Indian attack and will seek to get his reverse swing going while Umesh Yadav who is likely to share the new ball will want to underscore his reputation as a 150 km-plus bowler. Ashwin and Ojha will complete the Indian attack with their spin, though Irfan Pathan could find favour over Ojha, on Saturday. Dhoni will look to the likes of Raina and Sehwag to complete the quota of overs.
Sri Lanka will carry a slight edge over India who will be looking to use the game to some useful match practice ahead of a long season.
Sri Lanka’s probable eleven: Dilshan, Jayawardene, Sangakkara, Chandimal, Thitimane, Mathews, Perera, Kulasekara, Senanyake, Malinga, Herath.
India’s probable eleven: Sehwag, Gambhir, Kohli, Sharma, Raina, Tiwary, Dhoni, Pathan, Ashwin, Khan, Yadav.
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An avid writer, on an eclectic range of subjects, he brings to bear editorial experience garnered with a national newspaper in South-East Asia. He also has sportscasting experience, as a cricket commentator, and his passion for sport extends beyond Cricket, to Football, Tennis, and Olympic Sports.