India vs Sri Lanka: Third Test Preview

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India's Cheteshwar Pujara plays a shot during the final day of the first Test between India and Sri Lanka at the Eden Gardens cricket stadium in Kolkata on November 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Dibyangshu SARKAR / GETTYOUT / ----IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE----- / GETTYOUT (Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Five Tests. Four Months. Four Crushing Defeats. One Nervy Draw. This has been Sri Lanka’s report card over two test series’ against India. If a 0-3 drubbing at Home earlier in July this year was not enough, they were beaten comprehensively in the second Test in Nagpur after a nerve-wracking draw in Kolkata. The caravan now reaches Delhi, the venue for the Third Test of the Three-Match series which India currently lead 1-0.

 

India

Let’s talk a little about India. The performance at Nagpur was another resounding victory, something synonymous with their performances at home over the last 12-15 months. The bowlers dismissed Sri Lanka for a paltry first innings score of 205 before piling on 610/6(dec) in their batting. Dismissing the Lankans for 166, India won the Test by an innings and 239 runs. The brief will be simple for this Test match, “More of the Same Please”.

India will have a couple of issues to address though. Shikhar Dhawan is back in the squad for this match, and the question is simple, will he be preferred to open the batting, if yes, who does he replace? Murali Vijay, who marked his return to Test Cricket with a gritty 221-ball 128 should in all fairness retain his place in the squad. Lokesh Rahul has had a lukewarm series so far. He has scores of 0,79 and 7 in three innings. Considering he has been India’s regular Test opener over this grand home season, will the think tank drop him to give Dhawan yet another chance?
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Another issue plaguing the Indians is the form of Ajinkya Rahane. In seven Home Tests this year, Rahane has 314 runs at an average of 28.55 having passed fifty only twice. He is one of the very rare Indian batsmen whose record overseas is way better than at home. In his two Ranji Trophy games for Mumbai, the 29-year old batsman notched two ducks while averaging just 23.50. In this series, Rahane has scored just six runs in three innings at an average of 2.00. The Indian Vice Captain’s form is a big concern, the team would like to get  him a few runs before the forthcoming tour of Sri Lanka.
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India’s bowling is well oiled. Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja looked at their best once again in Nagpur with Ishant Sharma playing a very good support role. Fit again Mohammad Shami could replace Umesh Yadav after his good performance in Kolkata.

 

Sri Lanka

Where do we start talking about Sri Lanka? Everything that could have wrong in Nagpur, happened to Sri Lanka. Losing an early wicket, senior batsmen giving their wickets away cheaply and easily, batsmen not converting their starts into big scores, Sri Lanka were dismissed on the first day itself on a good batting strip. The bowling essay was shambolic. After getting the early wicket of Rahul, India did not give the visitors a sniff. Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma all hit centuries. The Lankans toiled for 176.1 overs. Their second innings was another debacle. India needed just 49.3 overs to dismiss Sri Lanka for 166.
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The issues for Sri Lanka keep on mounting. Opening Batsman Sadeera Samarawickrama has had a tour to forget with scores of 23,0,13 and 0. Barring Captain Dinesh Chandimal, no batsman is averaging close to 40. Senior batsmen Angelo Mathews, Lahiru Thirimanne and Dimuth Karunaratne average just 21,22.50 and 19.50 respectively. Their bowling looked hapless. Suranga Lakmal ended wicketless in Nagpur, Dilruwan Perera, Lahiru Gamage and Rangana Herath have taken just 11 wickets cumulatively at an average of 58 runs per wicket. Dasun Shanaka did not threaten enough too.

Further problems prior to the Third Test in Delhi emerged as Rangana Herath was ruled out of this Test with a back injury, Jeffrey Vandersay has been drafted in as his replacement. Lakshan Sandakan should replace Herath for this Third Test match. Lahiru Gamage has not been able to give adequate support to Lakmal. Left Arm Seamer Vishwa Fernando should replace him for this Test. Dhanajaya de Silva could be drafted in for Shanaka provided the conditions in Delhi ask for a third spinning option.

 

When: India vs Sri Lanka, Third Test, December 2-6, 9:30 AM local time

 

Where: Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi

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What To Expect

India will be expected to put in an another convincing performance and win the series 2-0. The pitch in Delhi though traditionally a spin-friendly wicket, there should be a grass cover providing early assistance for the seamers as the Indian team has asked for sporting wickets to prepare for their forthcoming tour to South Africa. Team who wins the toss should bat first and make use of the best batting conditions. Spinners should dominate the wicket-taking.

 

Probable XIs

India

  1. Lokesh Rahul/Shikhar Dhawan
  2. Murali Vijay
  3. Cheteshwar Pujara
  4. Virat Kohli(c)
  5. Ajinkya Rahane
  6. Rohit Sharma
  7. Ravichandran Ashwin
  8. Wriddhiman Saha(wk)
  9. Ravindra Jadeja
  10. Mohammad Shami/Umesh Yadav
  11. Ishant Sharma

Sri Lanka

  1. Sadeera Samarawickrama
  2. Dimuth Karunaratne
  3. Lahiru Thirimanne
  4. Angelo Mathews
  5. Dinesh Chandimal(c)
  6. Niroshan Dickwella(wk)
  7. Dasun Shanaka/Dhanajaya de Silva
  8. Dilruwan Perera
  9. Lakshan Sandakan
  10. Suranga Lakmal
  11. Lahiru Gamage/Vishwa Fernando

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