After crushing Bangladesh, the World Champions face their first real test when they clash with the team from Emerald Islands
Fatullah (Bangladesh): Their battered pride regained after snapping an eight-ODI winless streak, five-time champions India will look to build a winning momentum when they take on Sri Lanka in what could by their first real test in the Asia Cup on Friday.
India notched up a six-wicket win against hosts Bangladesh in their opening match of the five-nation regional tournament yesterday but their real test begins against the Lankans who had beaten defending champions Pakistan by 12 runs. Back on the familiar sub-continental conditions after humiliating series defeats in South Africa and New Zealand, India chased down 280 at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium here to register their first win in nine ODIs.
Stand-in skipper Virat Kohli smashed a 122-ball 136 in a 213-run partnership with Ajinkya Rahane who returned to ODI form with a 73 to hand India a perfect start to their campaign.Kohli’s tremendous form in Bangladesh which now reads 868 runs from 10 matches with an astounding average of 124, including his career-best 183 in last Asia Cup, will put India a favourite to win the tournament despite recent overseas reverses.
That the talented middle order batsman Rahane shook off a string of failures in New Zealand where he totalled 51 from five ODIs would mean India’s middle order would be settled before the two key clashes — against Sri Lanka and Pakistan. As India’s progression into the final will hinge on the results of the two key clashes, Kohli’s men do not have the luxury to relax.
Kohli had got a reprieve on 35 as Bangladesh failed to grab their share of chances. The skipper’s cheap dismissal would have certainly exposed the new-look Indian middle order in their chase of 280 and could have tilted the match the other way.
Struggling for quite some time, openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan had some testing times against an ordinary Bangladesh attack.Against a Sri Lankan team that boasts of the fiery Lasith Malinga, who is fresh from his match-winning five-for against Pakistan, the Indian opening duo would be desperate to get back among runs to give their side a solid start.
Especially, Dhawan’s listless batting and his weakness to short balls has begun to bother the Indian think-tank as time is fast running out for the left-hander to deliver. Dhawan should take inspiration from the way Rahane shrugged off a prolonged lean patch in one-day format.
Against Bangladesh, India fielded an unchanged XI that played against New Zealand apart from the obvious inclusion of wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik in place of injured Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and left out Cheteshwar Pujara.
Ambati Rayudu was picked ahead of Pujara, considered by many as a Test specialist batsman who has been included in the one-day squad with the 2015 World Cup in mind. But, in a crucial match like against Sri Lanka, it would be interesting to see whether skipper Kohli will gamble bringing in Pujara or retain the winning XI. Sri Lanka have been experiencing an extended taste of Bangladeshi conditions as they won the Test series 1-0, the T20s 2-0 before a 3-0 sweep in the one-dayers.
India: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami, Varun Aaron, Cheteshwar Pujara, Stuart Binny, Amit Mishra and Ishwar Pandey.
Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (c), Kusal Perera, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Mahela Jayawardene, Thisara Perera, Chaturanga de Silva, Dinesh Chandimal, Sachithra Senanayake, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal, Ajantha Mendis, Ashan Priyanjan and Dhammika Prasad.
Match starts– 1: 30pm IST