About the Match
Any lingering hope that the most ardent of Sri Lankan fans would have had of staging a comeback in this series has been extinguished as India beat Sri Lanka in the last match and now holds an unassailable 3-0 lead. There has been intense criticism of the hosts in the manner that they have folded and this has only added to their troubles. Can they lift themselves up and find a way to win a game in this series as India looks to experiment and give its bench a chance to play?
As a neutral observer, the slide of Sri Lankan cricket into an unstoppable abyss is very troubling. The pace at which Sri Lankan cricket seems to be devolving is scary and may potentially widen the gap between the top-4 cricketing nations of the world and everyone else.
Sri Lanka went into the last match needing a win to stay alive. They won the toss, and then promptly chose to bat first on a pitch that is known to get better for batting under the lights. They then proceeded to show absolutely no intent as they plodded their way to 217 for 9 in 50 overs. A poor total even in the nineties before T20 cricket supercharged the game and even more so against a gun batting lineup like India in a crunch match.
Even the fall of a few quick wickets never really threatened India as they could afford to take their time, get set and still win with almost 5 overs to spare. One could not help but think that they could have chased this total down in 30 overs had they needed to do so.
The current Sri Lankan team does not have any teeth in its bowling. Lasith Malinga has just taken one wicket in the entire series at an average of 126.00 and is giving away runs at an economy of 6 per over. In fact, no one in the Sri Lankan team apart from Akila Dananjaya has taken more than one wicket.
Akila Dananjaya is effective right now but he will have to develop more consistency to be successful in the long run. Apart from facing him, though, the Indians are just taking runs at will putting all the more pressure on an underperforming batting line-up.
The Sri Lankan batting has a lot of potential but for some reason just cannot seem to get their act together. Niroshan Dickwella looks good for a short while but throws it away too often while Kusal Mendis has not got going at all.
Thirimanne made a successful return to the side, scoring 80 but we are not sure how successful Dinesh Chandimal is going to be at the top of the order. The former Sri Lankan skipper went through a purple patch last year but in current form, he looks like a complete liability. An injury has ruled him out of the immediately following matches.
If your team has Siriwardana as the second highest scorer for the series, then you are facing some serious problems.
Only crowd trouble delayed India’s march to their 7th
straight ODI series victory against Sri Lanka, a time during which MS Dhoni found to take a nap on the field so easy was the match situation facing the Indian team.
Now that India has won the series, focus will move on to the bench strength and giving some of the other players a go as well as extending the scoreline to 5-0. Make no mistake, the manner in which this Indian team is playing and the form of Sri Lanka, that scoreline can be achieved no matter what combination India decides to play from its current squad.
A couple of the changes are easy to predict. Kuldeep Yadav will definitely get a go, likely in place of Yuzvendra Chahal, Manish Pandey will definitely get a game in place of maybe KL Rahul or Kedar Jadhav and Shardul Thakur could be played in place of one of the faster bowlers.
Ajinkya Rahane too is in the squad and he was the highest run scorer for India in West Indies, but he may have a tougher time getting into the team. The team management has made it clear that Rahane will have to make a place for himself at the top of the order and so he is fighting for a place with Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma.
Both of them have not played too much cricket or been in the long enough to want to abdicate their position. Maybe Dhawan could sit out for Rahane but that remains to be seen.
Even with all these changes in place, though, India will not lose anything in terms of either run scoring, fielding or wicket taking ability.
What will also happen is that the new players will come in with a hunger to do well and thus keep the intensity at its maximum. India may also want to test itself by batting first, although, that will depend on the conditions on offer.
Virat Kohli is one to experiment but not one to accept a loss if he can avoid it. He, himself, has missed out in the last couple of games and would not mind a hit in the center to get some runs to his name again.
Kedar Jadhav and Lokesh Rahul are the two players that are looking to really cement their place in the ODI team and their performances have been found wanting up until now. That is the only real area of concern for India as they head into the fourth match.
Pitch and Conditions
The current forecast for match day is not too good with thunderstorms being predicted. It could result in a curtailed match or one that is abandoned altogether. On the positive side though the weather can change patterns quite quickly in Sri Lanka so there is always hope. The pitch will be flat and excellent for batting like most subcontinent pitches are.
India to wi