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IND v SL, 1st Test Preview: Upbeat India ready to tackle the Lankan challenge

On paper, this entire series looks a one-sided contest, but the Lankan side is certainly capable of causing some damage. 

Virat Kohli India
Indian side (Photo by LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images)

After going past various top teams with ease, the Blackcaps ensured India didn’t get over the line easily in the recently concluded limited-overs tour. Yet, Virat Kohli and co managed to go past New Zealand, which proves their worth as a unit. Arguably the best team in the world, this Indian side can make any side totter around helplessly.

Combatting them are the Lankan neighbors, who are not in the best of form right now. The big positive for them is that they’re coming on the back of a historic Test series victory in UAE against Pakistan. With Karunaratne, Niroshan Dickwella, Dilruwan Perera and Rangana Herath playing a crucial role, they registered a much-needed 2-0 triumph, which came quite dramatically.

This series will be quite a challenge for the Islanders, who will be tested physically and psychologically. The Indian side looks formidable in every department and will certainly make life difficult for them. On paper, this entire series looks a one-sided contest, but the Lankan side is certainly capable of causing some damage.

Toss: Sri Lanka won the toss and opted to field

Dinesh Chandimal: We will have a bowl first. Lots of moisture on the wicket, lot of grass cover as well and we need to take advantage of it. We played some good cricket in UAE. The team put their heart and soul in it and credit goes to the entire team. We are confident coming for this tour. From the last tour, we have made three changes to the squad. Today, we are going to have 6 batters, 4 bowlers and a fast bowling all-rounder.

Virat Kohli: I don’t think the wicket has so many demons in it. The spinners will come into play from day 3 onwards. First two days will be challenging for the batters. The surface does have grass but does not look that threatening. We have 5 batsmen, Saha, two all-rounders in Ashwin and Jadeja, Umesh, Bhuvi and Shami.

India (Playing XI): Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli(c), Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha(w), Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami

Sri Lanka (Playing XI): Dimuth Karunaratne, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal(c), Niroshan Dickwella(w), Dasun Shanaka, Dilruwan Perera, Rangana Herath, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Gamage

 

Focus will be on

Cheteshwar Pujara (India)

One of the calmest and composed cricketers, Cheteshwar Pujara is concerned only about one thing, his game. A resolute technique blessed with mind-boggling concentration skills helped him succeed in the longest format and certainly, he’s as good as anyone in the world right now in Tests. Sri Lanka will vary of the threat he poses and it’ll be important for them to pick his wicket as soon as possible.

Niroshan Dickwella (Sri Lanka)

The unsung hero in Sri Lanka’s historic triumph in UAE, Niroshan Dickwella played a couple of game-changing knocks completely against the run of play. Whilst all the batsmen were scoring at a strike-rate of 35-45, he amassed runs at a strike-rate above 70 and made a significant difference. His explosive ability can come in handy at number 6 for the Lankans and if he can tackle the Indian spinners well, his side can manage something good in the series.

Playing Combinations

India

Shikhar Dhawan off-late has been in decent nick, but KL Rahul has been India’s first choice opener and he will open the innings alongside the ever trustable Murali Vijay. With the rock-solid Cheteshwar Pujara, skipper Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane to follow, the middle-order remains the mainstay. Rohit Sharma, Saha, Ashwin, and Jadeja can play long innings as well, which adds more depth to the lineup.

Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Shami are all set to stage an International comeback after missing out on the cricketing action for over almost 7 months. It’s an international comeback for the spinners as well as Ashwin and Jadeja haven’t played any limited overs fixtures in recent times. Hardik Pandya‘s all-round skills will be missed, but they will not go for another bowler.

Sri Lanka

Dimuth Karunaratne was the catalyst behind their success in the Gulf nations and he will be opening alongside the debutant Roshen Silva. Samarawickrama will come in to bat at number 3, with Lahiru Thirimanne, Dinesh Chandimal, Niroshan Dickwella, and Dilruwan Perera will be forming the middle order for them.

Lahiru Gamage and Suranga Lakmal will be taking control of the fast bowling department and unlike their combination in UAE, they might go with 2 pacers and 3 spinners. Lakshan Sandakan might be making way into the side, to accompany Dilruwan Perera and the experienced campaigner Rangana Herath.

StatAttack

8 – Ravichandran Ashwin needs 8 wickets to complete 300 Test scalps.

5 – Bhuvneshwar Kumar is 5 short of 50 Test wickets.

70 – Dinesh Chandimal needs 70 runs to complete 3,000 runs in the longest format.

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