Colombo: As Sri Lanka prepare for a memorable farewell for veteran batsman Kumar Sangakkara, India will look to regroup and avenge the loss in the first Test when they square up for the second of the three-match series at the P. Sara Oval here from Thursday.
But pulling the rabbit out of the bag for the Indians might be tough, as the hosts would ideally want to gift Sangakkara a win in his last international match. Indian captain Virat Kohli and Team Director Ravi Shastri might have already paid their tribute to the left-handed batting maestro but on the field it would be nothing short of a battleground.
India have made their intentions clear of hitting back stringly but it won’t be easy. India have added allrounder Stuart Binny to the squad to boost their batting, which fell like a pack of cards in the second innings of the last game, which they lost by 63 runs. At Galle in the first Test match, the visitors were in a commanding position after bowling out the hosts for 183 runs in the first innings. They batted well in the first innings with Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan getting to individual centuries and taking a 192-run lead.
They had to chase a modest target of 176 runs. But then they couldn’t negotiate the guile of left-arm spinner Rangana Herath on a pitch that started turning square. Herath ran through the batting line-up like a mammoth crushing an army under its feet. The tweaker demolished India with figures of 7/48 to fold the visitors for only 112 in the secon innings to win by 63 runs. Sri Lanka would ideally want to repeat the performance. They would bank on their inexperienced but hard working bowling outfit to fire with the likes of pacer Dhammika Prasad and off-spinner Tharindu Kaushal in it. Herath would once again be the leader of the pack.
The batting has been of concern for the hosts particulary the misfiring top-order but middle-order bat Dinesh Chandimal, with his century in the first match, ensured they had runs to defend in the second innings. However, they would want a few of them to come good with Sangakkara heading the list. The spinning department has clicked for the Indians too with off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin bagging 10 wickets in the first Test aptly supported by Harbhajan Singh and leggie Amit Mishra.
It is once again the fragile batting that will worry the Indians. Virat Kohli’s inconsistency has been one of the prime reason why the batting has wobbled with the likes of Rohit Sharma too failing to prove his worth. India would be itching to put the disaster at Galle behind and start afresh.