About the Match
If you are having a feeling of déjà vu on seeing India and Sri Lanka get ready to play yet another series against each other then you are not alone. They just competed in a full series against each other which ended barely a couple of months ago. That series was dominated by India which beat Sri Lanka 3-0 in tests and the home team will be the overwhelming favorites once again. Sri Lanka, though, managed to upset Pakistan 2-0 in UAE after that series and seems to be finding some semblance of stability once again.
One of the hallmarks of the team under Virat Kohli has been their ruthlessness. The Indian skipper made an early decision to play five bowlers and has backed it ever since. They also approach each and every series with a fresh outlook and a strong desire to win.
Maybe the fact that India’s test team has become increasingly specialized and different from the limited overs squad could also have a lot to do with it.
There are a couple of important decisions that lie ahead of India in this series as well as this test match specifically. With three fit and in-form openers in the squad, India has to make a decision and leave one of them out.
KL Rahul has scored a fifty in his last seven innings, Shikhar Dhawan was just the man of the series against Sri Lanka and is in the form of his life while Murali Vijay is India’s best bet when it comes to battling overseas conditions.
Since the next year is going to be all about India’s away tours, Murali Vijay walks in the team in our opinion. We personally think that KL Rahul will keep his place ahead of Shikhar Dhawan but it could go either way.
The rest of the batting order chooses itself. Pujara and Vijay scored centuries in their most recent Ranji Trophy games while Kohli and Rahane are safe as houses in Indian conditions. The next tricky question comes about the replacement for Hardik Pandya.
Batting Saha at 6 and Ashwin at 7 or vice-versa is an option in India but definitely not while touring abroad. Rohit Sharma could be back in the team for this test. The green seamer-friendly surface at the Eden Gardens will also mean choosing between one lone spinner along with three fast bowlers.
Will India stick with Ashwin or be tempted to try out Ravindra Jadeja alone? We, once again see Ashwin getting first preference but that could change if he does not perform well.
There is a lot to play for in the backdrop of some extremely tough challenges coming India’s way in the near future but taking Sri Lanka too lightly could also spell doom for the home team.
What must Sri Lanka do to win a test against India in India? The Islanders have never won a test here in their history and are coming to these shores after receiving a thrashing from India at home. The outlook does not look bright for Sri Lanka, however, the return of some top players should give them hope.
Dinesh Chandimal is fit and raring to go, Angelo Mathews is back in the squad, and Dhananjaya de Silva also makes a comeback into the team. Karunaratne had a good outing against India, Niroshan Dickwella is dangerous down the order as well and if a couple of people hit top-form then Sri Lanka could find themselves scoring plenty of runs on a regular basis.
Past records will show that the one thing that any team that wants to win matches in India needs to do is to score runs. Plenty of them.
Getting big first innings total will allow Sri Lanka to stay in the game and maybe even put some pressure on the Indian batting. The Sri Lankan bowling attack will be heavily dependent on Rangana Herath, Suranga Lakmal and the youngster duo of Lakshan Sandakan and Lahiru Gamage.
Skipper Dinesh Chandimal has stated that he would like to play with five bowlers in all the match in an attempt to pick up 20 Indian wickets. This means that Kolkata could see Sri Lanka playing with three fast bowlers and two spinners.
Rangana Herath had an illustrious career and will go down as one of the all-time great spinners but his record against India is decidedly ordinary. We are highly skeptical of him being able to change that around in Kolkata where the seamers might hold the key.
Sri Lanka must back themselves to get rid of the Indian top order with some aggressive fast bowling on a pitch that will offer the pacers more assistance than possibly any other venue in Asia. We would definitely back Gamage as a potential top-wicket taker for Sri Lanka in this match.
Pitch and Conditions
It is not often that you play a test match in India and talk about the pitch being green, hard, and conducive to seam bowling. That is exactly what the Eden gardens will offer. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar picked up 5 wickets the last time he played at the venue and will be a major threat with the swing that he generates.
Rain is in the air and we could see plenty of rain delays throughout the test match.
India to wi