The hill just keeps on getting steeper for Sri Lanka, they became the first team to lose a ODI series against Zimbabwe and now come up against the No. 1 ranked test team India.
If you’re a Sri Lankan, you have to head into this test series with optimism. Not many teams have come out on top against India in recent times, especially in the red ball format with the damaging spin combination of Ashwin & Jadeja alongside a solid batting line up that includes arguably the worlds current best batsman, Virat Kohli. The omission of newly-announced test skipper Dinesh Chandimal due to illness hasn’t helped Sri Lanka’s cause, the 27-year-old was admitted to hospital with Pneumonia and has been ruled out of the first test. That puts a huge dent in Sri Lanka’s batting line-up, but the show must go on even if they have to fight an uphill battle for the best part of the first test. In saying that, there are some positives though. In the recent test match victory against Zimbabwe, the entirety of the top order all dished up impressive performances with the bat at some stage in the first & second innings which could hold them in good stead, keeping in mind that India’s bowling attack is a class above Zimbabwe’s of coarse. The in-form batsman of the team is Upul Tharanga, he’s been clinical with the willow for sometime now and needs to make this purple patch count against an opponent that can pin you down as a batsman at the best of times, even if you’re in the form of your life. Another who needs to reach his very best is Rangana Herath, the veteran spinner is Sri Lanka’s most lethal weapon in their bowling department and can match India’s spin-duo at his best, the spin bowlers might determine the outcome of this match yet again.
For the Indians, it’s just another scalp they’ll be looking to add to their bag of victims. For the first time in a long time, we witnessed an under-performing Virat Kohli in India’s last test series against Australia. What was even more peculiar about it was it happened on his home soil, finishing the series with an appalling average of just 9.20 from five innings. How India managed to win that series is beyond me, but it allowed others to step up in his absence which only added to India’s strength’s in the batting department. It’s almost a certainty that Virat Kohli will want to wipe that series from his memory bank from a personal perspective and fire back with a big score against a struggling Sri Lankan outfit, The Indian captain is an unstoppable force once he gets a roll on and often plays the opposition out of the game in a matter of days. Unfortunately, India will be without their inform batsman in the test arena who has also come down with an illness (fever), ruling KL Rahul out of the first test. Rahul scored five-consecutive 50+ scores in test series against Australia back in March. With the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara and Wriddhiman Saha coming off successful stints in the previous test series, India still have that stability with Kohli and Rahane expected to return to their best in this upcoming series. The pendulum sways significantly in favor of India with the lethal spin twins Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja set to be released against a No. 7 ranked test side. India also have Kuldeep Yadav who picked up four wickets with his chinaman’s in the tour match against the SL president’s XI.
Top 5 fantasy picks | Sri Lanka | 1st test | Galle
- Rangana Herath
- Upul Tharanga
- Dimuth Karunaratne
- Dilruwan Perera
- Angelo Mathews
Top 5 fantasy picks | India | 1st test | Galle
- Cheteshwar Pujara
- Virat Kohli
- Ravindra Jadeja
- Ravi Ashwin
- Kuldeep Yadav
Team News | Sri Lanka
Rangana Herath will captain Sri Lanka in the absence of Dinesh Chandimal who has been ruled out of the first test due to illness. Dhananjaya de Silva returns to the squad and seems to be the likely inclusion to replace Chandimal in the starting XI, although Danushka Gunathilaka scored 74 for the President’s XI against India last week and may have earned a debut in the test side. Nuwan Pradeep has also been included in the test squad to face India, although they might want to stick with Lakmal and Kumara for now.
Sri Lanka (possible) – 1. Dimuth Karunaratne 2. Upul Tharanga 3. Kusal Mendis 4. Angelo Mathews 5. Asela Gunaratne 6. Niroshan Dickwella (wk) 7. Dhananjaya de Silva 8. Dilruwan Perera 9. Rangana Herath (c) 10. Suranga Lakmal 11. Lahiru Kumara.
Team News | India
With KL Rahul ruled out for the first test due to illness, Abhinav Mukund should get another importunity to prove his worth in the opening slot alongside Shikhar Dhawan who also makes a return to the test side in the absence of Murali Vijay. Rohit Sharma was a surprise call-up and may well return to the eleven straight away, although India will be very tempted to play three specialist spinners which means there is only one spot for a seamer if Rohit is included.
India (possible) – 1. Shikhar Dhawan 2. Abhinav Mukund 3. Cheteshwar Pujara 4. Virat Kohli (c) 5. Ajinkya Rahane 6. Ravi Ashwin 7. Wriddhiman Saha (wk) 8. Ravindra Jadeja 9. Mohammed Shami/Bhuvneshwar Kumar 10. Kuldeep Yadav 11. Umesh Yadav.