About the Match
A nightmare start to the ODI series has made a contest that seemed like a foregone conclusion into an exciting one. For the second consecutive ODI series, India is now forced into a situation where they need to win their next two matches to be able to win the series. Another slip-up and the Sri Lankans might be able to end their worst year in ODI cricket with a win against the 2nd ranked team in the world at home. Now that’s something that not too many people would have wagered on happening.
The performance of the Indian batsmen in the last match would have given the Indian fans a lot of heartburn considering the fact that the Indian team will be playing in South Africa, England, Australia and New Zealand over the next 18 months.
If Dharamsala could cause such havoc then just imagine what a green Durban pitch could do.
It is also not like this Indian team is made up of newbies or an experimental squad to take on the Sri Lankans. Barring Virat Kohli, the squad that was decimated in the first ODI was full strength. This now brings us to the second ODI in Mohali, another location where the seam bowlers have traditionally held sway.
We expect India to go in with the exact same squad even though there were a lot of weaknesses on display. It is unlike the current management setup to make sweeping changes just after one match and so all the players will get a long rope.
The one change we would like to see but are probably not going to is to see Ajinkya Rahane slot in at 3 instead of Shreyas Iyer. Yes, Rahane has been labeled as n opener but surely he can fill in at 3 if Kohli is not available for the series. His last four innings have all produced fifties and that is something that should help swing things in his favor.
India has been struggling with its ODI batting order for quite some time now and even though the top-3 are settled (when Kohli is around), positions 4-7 are up for grabs. Hardik Pandya is the floater and he has done enough to make himself indispensable to the team but Dinesh Karthik, Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer, and Kedar Jadhav have not done enough to justify their places in the squad. MS Dhoni, the lone warrior for India in the first match, also has been struggling to start quickly and finish strong in the limited overs matches.
If India loses a couple of early wickets again in the second match, particularly the openers, then this batting lineup is looking very shaky.
India’s bowling is a completely different picture. Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar are exceptional bowlers under any conditions and they will make life difficult for the Sri Lankan players throughout this series.
Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal did not get an opportunity to bowl in the last match but their recent record also suggests that they will be around for a long time in the Indian squad.
Injury to Kedar Jadhav has meant that Washington Sundar is in the squad. It may be a left-field choice to play him but he could replace one of the spinners. He is in excellent bowling form and has improved his batting to be considered a legitimate all-rounder.
For 12 matches before this one, the Sri Lankans wondered how they would win an ODI next. Their batting looked out of sorts, their bowling looked inadequate, and even their fielding had gone to pieces. All of this led to a crisis in leadership with a number of captains being tried out over the course of the last 12 months or so.
Then they came to Dharamsala and utilized the conditions brilliantly.
It was encouraging to see Angelo Mathews back to bowling because that lends a lot of stability to the Sri Lankan side. Nuwan Pradeep and man of the match, Suranga Lakmal, were lethal with the new ball ensuring that none of the Indian batsmen had an easy delivery to look forward to.
The spinners also played a small part with Dananjaya and Pathirana picking up a wicket each. With Thisara Perera also keen to bowl a few overs, this Sri Lankan attack can be quite effective especially when the conditions suit them.
On a flat batting pitch, they may have more difficulty but Mohali could provide them another helpful surface again.
A small chase of 112 was never going to be much of an issue for the Sri Lankans but a couple of early wickets would have caused some flutters. Mathews and Tharanga played useful hands while DIckwella continued to impress with his strokeplay to ensure that Sri Lanka won with plenty of wickets in the end.
The return of Gunathilaka at the top of the order and Gunaratne in the middle order has strengthened this team considerably in our opinion. Angelo Mathews struck form in the test series while Tharanga had a very good Bangladesh Premier League as well.
This batting unit can definitely score the runs needed to put the Indians under pressure. There will always be questions about what the result may have been had India bowled first in Dharamsala but that will be taking away from the team’s performance.
After a year that all Sri Lankan fans would like to forget, it is encouraging to see Sri Lankan start to assemble a side which can compete on a more regular basis.
Pitch and Conditions
A lot of rain has been forecast for the day before the match in Mohali and that could affect the preparation of the pitch. We expect the surface to have some grass, offer good bounce to the fast bowlers and the moisture in the air to provide some lateral assistance to the new ball bowlers.
We have no doubt that the team winning the toss will want to bowl first.
This is a shaky Indian team at the moment but we believe they have what it takes to come back strongly against a Sri Lankan side that is not accustomed to winning consistently.
Back India to win