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India take on Lanka in first real test

 FATULLAH (BANGLADESH), Feb 27 (PTI): Their battered pride regained after snapping an eight-ODI winless streak, five-time champions India will look to build a winning momentum when they take on Sri Lanka in what could by their first real test in the Asia Cup here tomorrow.

India notched up a six-wicket win against hosts Bangladesh in their opening match of the five-nation regional tournament yesterday but their real test begins tomorrow against the Lankans who had beaten defending champions Pakistan by 12 runs.

Back on the familiar subcontinental conditions after humiliating series defeats in South Africa and New Zealand, India chased down 280 at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium here to register their first win in nine ODIs.

Stand-in skipper Virat Kohli smashed a 122-ball 136 in a 213-run partnership with Ajinkya Rahane who returned to ODI form with a 73 to hand India a perfect start to their Asia Cup campaign.

Kohli’s tremendous form in Bangladesh which now reads 868 runs from 10 matches with an astounding average of 124, including his career-best 183 in last Asia Cup, will put India a favourite to win the tournament despite recent overseas reverses.

That the talented middle order batsman Rahane shook off a string of failures in New Zealand where he totalled 51 from five ODIs would mean India’s middle order would be settled before the two key clashes – against Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

As India’s progression into the final will hinge on the results of the two key clashes, Kohli’s men do not have the luxury to relax.

Kohli had got a reprieve on 35 as Bangladesh failed to grab their share of chances. The skipper’s cheap dismissal would have certainly exposed the new-look Indian middle order in their chase of 280 and could have tilted the match the other way.

The Teams (From): India: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvan-eshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami, Varun Aaron, Cheteshwar Pujara, Stuart Binny, Amit Mishra and Ishwar Pandey.

Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (c), Kusal Perera, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Mahela Jayawardene, Thisara Perera, Chaturanga de Silva, Dinesh Chandimal, Sachithra Senanayake, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal, Ajantha Mendis, Ashan Priyanjan and Dhammika Prasad.

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