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Confident India ready to increase Lankan misery


Kuldeep Yadav bowls during a practice session as coach Ravi Shastri looks on ahead of Thursday’s 2nd ODI against Sri Lanka at Pallekele.
 PALLEKELE, Aug 23: India will once again be expected to be at their ruthless best when they take on a Sri Lanka, which has hit nadir in both form and confidence, in the second One-day International, here tomorrow.

After a lop-sided 3-0 Test series victory, the script did not change much in the opening ODI, where India steamrolled the opposition by nine wickets.

Such has been Sri Lanka’s performance that supporters stopped the team bus demanding answers for a shoddy show. Chief coach Nic Pothas pointed out in no uncertain terms that all is not well within the team, indirectly pointing fingers at the interference from team manager Asanka Gurusinha.

Like it has happened during the past few months, Shikhar Dhawan pummelled the Lankan bowlers into submission with an unbeaten 132.

For skipper Virat Kohli, it was business as usual with an unbeaten 82.

As such, it is tough to foresee any changes to the Indian playing XI. Only one out of five games has been played yet, and even in West Indies, Kohli resisted the urge to chop and change too much.

It is a similar scenario here as well. At Dambulla, India didn’t prefer to go in with either two leg-spinners or two left-arm spinners, thus forming the Chahal-Patel’s orthodox leg break-left arm spin combination.

Additionally, the ODI wickets in Sri Lanka do not afford the luxury of playing three spinners. Thus, unless the Pallekele wicket is exceptionally dry, Kuldeep Yadav can expect to be left out once again, along with Manish Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane and Shardul Thakur.

It will be interesting if Kohli shuffles his batting order a bit to give KL Rahul and Kedar Jadhav, some batting time considering the inept Sri Lankan bowling which has failed to get the ‘Men In Blue’ out.

There has been questions raised about Sri Lanka’s team selection policies.

Test skipper, and one of Sri Lanka’s most attacking batsmen Dinesh Chandimal was left out of the playing XI as ODI captain Upul Tharanga – generally an opener – came out to bat at No 4, where Chandimal bats.

This has set tongues wagging that all is not well in the Sri Lankan dressing room and that the coach and captain are being over-ridden by others. Pothas openly questioned the decision of leaving out Chandimal in the post-match conference.

When asked about the influence of team manager Gurusinha and chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya, he came up with the classic “too many cooks” quote.

However, it doesn’t take spotlight away from the simple fact that Sri Lanka once again failed to provide adequate challenge for the Indian team.

If the Test series was evidence of the gap between the No. 1 and 7 ranked teams, then on evidence of the Dambulla game alone, the ICC ODI rankings of India and Sri Lanka – Nos 3 and 8 respectively – are justified too.

Teams

India: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shardul Thakur.

Sri Lanka: Upul Tharanga (c), Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Chamara Kapugedera, Milinda Siriwardana, Malinda Pushpakumara, Akila Dananjaya, Lakshan Sandakan, Thisara Perera, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lasith Malinga, Dushmantha Chameera, Vishwa Fernando. – PTI

Match starts at: 2.30pm IST

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