About the Match
After the drubbing India handed to Sri Lanka in the test series, there was a lot of hope that the host would come back with some more fight in the ODI series. That may be hoping for a little too much, at least on the evidence of the first match. Can Sri Lanka finally find the fight within them to take on a well drilled Indian team?
Teams tend to lose more tosses when they are on a losing streak or maybe it just seems that way but that is exactly what happened to Sri Lanka. They were put into bat by Virat Kohli and for a while, it looked like Sri Lanka would get a total of 300.
Their excellent start of 74 in 13 overs was wasted by Gunathilaka as he tried to play a needless reverse sweep. Mendis and DIckwella then took the score to 139 in 24.3 overs without looking in any trouble before the implosion came.
139 for 1 quickly became 126 all out as almost 7 overs were left unutilized.
The Sri Lankan batsmen continue to play themselves in and then throw their wickets giving India an opportunity to come back into the match. They will need to focus on the positives though which was the form of Dickwella, Gunathilaka, and Mendis.
These are the three batsmen that will have to score the bulk of the runs for Sri Lanka because Angelo Mathews is looking hopelessly out of form. If one of these three does not score a century in the second match, Sri Lanka will once again struggle to put a decent total on the board.
The bowling from Sri Lanka was even worse than their batting as not one bowler looked likely to pick wickets. Lasith Malinga is a shadow of himself having lost the extra pace he once possessed and the spinners just looked like cannon fodder.
Sri Lanka may have to re-evaluate their plan of playing on flat batting wickets because their bowlers will struggle to defend any score that their batsmen can put up.
Virat Kohli said after the last match that it was a ‘near perfect’ performance by his team. Apart from the first half of the first innings where the Sri Lankan batsmen scored a few runs, it is difficult to see any mistakes that Kohli could be critical of.
The experiment of giving Hardik Pandya the new ball signals an approach where he will be given more responsibility in the future and expected to play the fifth bowlers role constantly.
The absence of Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav from the lineup leaves the fast bowling department looking a little thin in our opinion. Jasprit Bumrah is excellent at the death but he does not have the same gravitas with the new ball.
This will always leave an opportunity for the opposition team to put pressure on the Indian team by attacking Pandya and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar up front.
It was surprising to see Kuldeep Yadav be left out of the side considering the success he had in the West Indies and Axar Patel given a go. Patel, to his credit, bowled very well and ended up picking three important wickets.
Yuzvendra Chahal had an off day as he continued to bowl short and give the batsmen plenty of opportunities to score. We think, however, that India will stick to the same set of 11 for this match irrespective of individual performances.
The batting for India was awesome led by Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli. Had it not been for an unfortunate run-out, this victory could have easily come by 10 wickets.
It will be interesting to see what India can get if they bat first because it certainly seemed like India could have got 400 with ease in the last match.
With players like Rahul, Dhoni, Jadhav, and Pandya also in the lineup, the Indian batting is seriously strong and should be able to withstand the loss of a few quick wickets. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, must hope that they can get past the top 3 and find some deep seated flaws.
Pitch and Conditions
The surface at Pallekele tends to be a bit more lively under the lights and offers some assistance to the pacers. The ball also comes on to the bat better and so we expect teams to still want to chase if they win the toss.
There is always some rain around in Pallekele and we could see some rain interruptions once again.
The current lack of form that Sri Lanka is going through and the utter dominance that India is showcasing means that we are once again backing an Indian win in this match.
India to win