India, the numero uno side in Test cricket, have done what was expected of them and defeated lowly-ranked Sri Lankans by 2-0 with one match to play. India took the lead in both the matches and then never looked back and carried on with the momentum. The third Test match will be played at picturesque Pallekele and India go into the contest as overwhelming favourites. Sri Lanka on the other hand are going through a really rough time and it would be a tall task to beat the top-rated and in form Indian team.
India, after wrapping up the second Test at SSC, Colombo by an innings and 53 runs would like to carry the same intensity and aim for the whitewash. India would be forced to make a change because of No 1 ranked all-rounder and bowler Ravindra Jadeja’s suspension (13 wickets) and left arm chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav, who had made his debut against Australia at Dharamsala in a deciding match and performed quite well. The team has been gelling well and all the players are performing their role and executing the plans. Cheteshwar Pujara has been the standout player for India and has already hit two tons and has scored 301 runs. Captain Virat Kohli has manoeuvred the bowlers quite well and Ravichandran Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami have backed Ravindra Jadeja quite ably.
The only concern for India has been the form of Hardik Pandya, who has failed to make an impact. The option for the management could be to replace Pandya with Rohit Sharma, but the problem would be that Sharma hasn’t had much game time in the middle and has not played since ICC Champions Trophy. Axar Patel, who has replaced Jadeja would find it difficult to get past Kuldeep Yadav and Ishant Sharma might have to continue carry drinks for some more time.
Sri Lanka on the other hand have hit rock bottom and from administration chaos, player fitness, lethargic attitude and apathy in general have played below par cricket in first two matches. Rangana Herath has been ruled out of the Pallekele Test with a stiff back and now the pressure will be on Dilruwan Perrea to lead the attack. The only saving grace for SL has been the performance of Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis, who both hit centuries in the second innings at Colombo, but skipper Dinesh Chandimal and experienced Angelo Mathews have to score the bulk of the runs to make a difference. The bowling has been lacklustre and with speedster Nuwan Pradeep and Herath out of the Test, it wouldn’t be a surprise if India ends up getting 600 again against a hapless Lankan attack.
Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties and anything can happen, but India, who in their last 26 Test matches have only lost two matches and have built an aura around them. The team of Kohli and Ravi Shastri have concentrated on basics and given freedom to players to play their natural game. SL not too long ago were winning silverwares and just have to fine tune certain areas to make a comeback. If cricket was played on paper then SL would not stand a chance and also man to man India are far superior than their counterparts, but upsets have happened in past and it would be good for Test cricket if Lanka gets better of big brother India.