About the Match
After a somewhat controversial end to the test series with pollution masks making an appearance, players falling sick, and a dead pitch that lead to a draw, a change of pace to the limited-overs series will be a welcome change. India and Sri Lanka have already played a full ODI series just a month or so ago and so viewers may find it a little cumbersome to get excited for this contest again but the selection of a very young Indian squad should make things interesting.
Sri Lanka must also feel that the absence of some Indian team regulars provides them the opportunity to get some wins under their belt.
The fact that the Indian team is now focused solely on the South African challenge ahead is no secret. They rested some important players from the test series and have now rested Virat Kohli for the ODI’s. This means that Rohit Sharma will be the leading the side, something that he has done a lot in the IPL but is inexperienced doing so at the ODI level.
A couple of interesting selection issues come up for India in the absence of Virat Kohli. While Rohit and Shikhar are sure to open, the number 3 position could be either Ajinkya Rahane or Shreyas Iyer. While Rahane had a pretty good series against the West Indies, he is a far from certain fixture in the side.
Iyer, who has been picked for the ODI’s for the first time has been putting in some very impressive performances at the A level and could be given the opportunity here.
The rest of team almost picks itself with the availability of a full strength bowling lineup, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, and Dinesh Karthik who did quite well in the last ODI series.
Manish Pandey might find himself on the sidelines along with Siddharth Kaul for this series. The only other close selection call will be between Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav for the role of the second spinner.
We personally would like to see Rahane and Kuldeep Yadav be given a run in the side ahead of Iyer and Axar Patel.
This Indian side is going to be a handful for the Sri Lankan even in the absence of Virat Kohli, something which illustrates the bench strength that India has built up over the years.
Rohit Sharma is going to be our batsman to watch out for in this series seeing as the captaincy helped him elevate his performances in the IPL as well. Among the bowlers, Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar can lay claim to being two of the best death bowlers going around and so they can be expected to do most of the damage in this series as well.
The turmoil in the Sri Lankan camp can be gauged from the fact that Thisara Perera will be the seventh captain across different formats in 2017 alone. He has been named captain just for the current series and the Sri Lankan selectors will take decision on a series to series basis.
We wonder if this is the best way to foster some stability in the team but that is what the Sri Lankan fans have to live with right now.
Coming to this series, a lot of people might write off Sri Lanka completely but that would be foolhardy. They have some dangerous players that could upset India quite easily.
Upul Tharanga may not be the skipper anymore but he has just had an excellent Bangladesh Premier League 2017. Even Thisara Perera and couple of other Sri Lankan batsmen have had some good match practice playing in the BPL with some success.
Sri Lanka will also be happy to welcome back Asela Gunaratne in the team who had impressed with his batting performances and useful bowling before getting injured. Add an in-form Lahiru Thirimmane, Angelo Mathews, and Dhananjaya de Silva into the mix as well and you suddenly get a very capable looking Sri Lankan team.
Even Niroshan DIckwella, who has been inconsistent in the tests, becomes a real threat while opening the batting in the ODI’s and Kusal Perera, who is making a comeback, cannot be counted out either.
The Sri Lankan batting is not something that would concern their supporters though the same cannot be said about their bowling. The likes of Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Dushmanth Chameera should enjoy the pace and bounce which the Dharamsala pitch usually offers but they will need to find some new ways of getting past the Indian batsmen.
Akila Dananjaya enjoyed a spectacular spell against the Indians in their previous series and that should get some more opportunities in this series as well.
Pitch and conditions
Rain is never too far away in these parts of the hills but the current weather forecasts suggest that we should be okay. Dharamsala always offers plenty of bounce and carry for the fast bowlers, which also translates into plenty of runs for batsmen that get in.
We think the team winning the toss will choose to bat second to try and make some use of the conditions first up. Expect a total of around 300 to be scored, especially if India bats first.
The last five ODI matches between the two sides have been won by India and while we expect a close fight from the Sri Lankans, we don’t think that they will be able to beat India.
Back India to win.