About the Match
Sri Lanka managed to finally not lose a match against India but they have the rain to thank for taking a lot of time out of the game. India was under the pump after their first inning debacle but showed great resolve in coming back strongly to almost pull off a remarkable victory. All things said and done, though, the series is still 0-0 and Sri Lanka has shown that it is not going to roll over.
This series against Sri Lanka is being treated as an extended warm-up for the upcoming South Africa series rather than being a typical home series. While Eden gardens was expected to be green and helpful for the fast bowlers, rumors indicate that the same will hold true for the other two venues as well.
India will also be forced to make some changes to the playing eleven because Shikhar Dhawan and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar have been released from the squad ahead of the second test match due to personal reasons.
It is certain that Murali Vijay will retake his place at the top of the order in place of Shikhar Dhawan but the route that India go in replacing Bhuvaneshwar Kumar is less clear. Ishant Sharma is in the squad and could be a direct replacement but there is also a case to be made for the inclusion of Rohit Sharma.
India’s ideal lineup for South Africa could well contain two fast bowlers, one spinner, one seam-bowling all-rounder, and a wicket-keeper with six genuine batsmen up top. Playing Ashwin at number 6 seems at least a number too high abroad.
India also has to decide between which one of its two spinners make the cut for the tours abroad. Ashwin has been the leader of the attack but Jadeja was preferred last time around and done equally well in helpful conditions.
Mohammad Shami was unlucky not to have got the wickets that he deserved in the last match but he is our pick to be the chief wrecker in this match.
A lot of questions remain for India as they are now firmly focused on their tours abroad rather than beating Sri Lanka yet another time. That they believe can be done even without trying too hard or loading the conditions in their favor.
Nic Pothas, the current Sri Lankan coach remarked after the game that he was very excited by the manner in which his team fought but that seems to be looking at only the silver lining. Sri Lanka had the best of conditions to bowl and could have prevented India from getting even the runs that they did get in the first inning.
They batted well in the first inning to set up the game for themselves but then fell apart as Virat Kohli scored rapidly and asked them to bat for a second time. The loss of seven wickets in under a full session is a sign of concern.
A look at their stats from the first match shows that their highest scorer in the match was Rangana Herath with 67 runs. Mathews, Dickwella, Thirimanne, and even Chandimal all got starts but failed to convert it into anything substantial.
Among the bowlers, Suranga Lakmal had an excellent outing as he made full use of the conditions but Shanaka and Gamage were very disappointing. While the spinners were reduced to the supporting cast in this match, it was still surprising to see Rangana Herath bowl only eight overs in the entire match as compared to the 20 that Dilruwan Perera bowled.
It is encouraging to see the Sri Lankans play with five bowlers and look to take the attack to the Indians. It does leave them a little vulnerable in the batting front and asks their top-order to do more in every game.
It will be interesting to see if the collapse in the second test match forces them to make some changes or they continue in the same vein that has now seen them win 2 out their last 3 test matches away from home.
Pitch and Conditions
The pitch at Nagpur wore a healthy cover of live green grass a few days before the test match and if the media briefings are to go by, not much will change in the lead up to the test. We still believe that even with a lot of grass on the pitch, the bowlers will not get the same kind of support that they got at the Eden Gardens.
The weather is sunny and should help make things more comfortable for the batsmen as well. There is currently no threat of rain.
India to wi