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Sri Lanka v India, 2nd Test, Preview: Depleted hosts look for revival

The return of Chandimal in the side will boost the hosts who are desperate for a win.

Nuwan Pradeep
Sri Lankan will welcome Dinesh Chandimal’s return to the side. (Photo by Tharaka Basnayaka/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

After getting thumped in the first Test at Galle, Sri Lanka are looking for answers. They are on the verge of capitulating to a successive Test series loss against India. Sri Lanka are known to be tough competitors, especially at home but their recent form has been alarming. India won the 3-match Test series in 2015 after a gap of 23 years when they beat the Islanders by a margin of 2-1.

The competition for places in the Test XI is getting sterner by the day for India. Abhinav Mukund, who was a first choice backup opener for India, might miss out in Colombo as the returning KL Rahul will walk into the side. Shikhar Dhawan, who wasn’t in the scheme of things as far as Test cricket is concerned, looks set to retain his place in the side following a blitzkrieg innings on return at Galle. Kohli marked a return to form in the longest form of the game by getting a slick hundred in the second essay. Rahane did no harm to his form by getting crucial runs in the middle order while Pujara just carried on from where he left in March. All in all, Indian Test team looks a great unit at the moment.

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Sri Lanka has fallen back on Lahiru Thirimanne, who returns to the fold after spending 13 months out of the Test side. Dinesh Chandimal is expected to start this game after recovering from his injury. The likes of Tharanga, Chandimal, and Mathews will have to step up if they want to stop the slide.

Focus will be on

KL Rahul

Rahul finds himself in a peculiar spot. He has done no harm to his position in the side as he has scored 944 runs in the last 12 Tests at 55.53. But with the return of Shikhar Dhawan, and Murali Vijay waiting in the wings, Rahul will have to start his Test career all over again. He will be backed by the think-tank but cannot afford to slip up at the moment. In his last series – the Border Gavaskar Trophy – Rahul was very prolific scoring 6 half centuries in 7 innings. The 25-year old must convert these starts into substantial scores in future. Coming back from an injury is always tough, the right-hander must try and be abstemious in his approach till the time he settles back in the side.

Dinesh Chandimal

Chandimal returns to lead the home side at the SSC. This will be his first Test match after being appointed as a full-time captain following Mathews stepping down. Usually an elan batsman, Chandimal desperately needs to score runs straight away. The middle order of Sri Lanka isn’t doing great and he must shoulder responsibility. The 27-year old will seek inspiration from his whirlwind knock of 162* against India 2 years ago which helped them to an improbable come-from-behind win. He larruped the Indian bowling all around the park in a memorable hundred which remains his highest Test score. Chandimal will also enjoy support from seniors Tharanga and Mathews, who have led the Sri Lankan team in the past.

Playing Combinations

India

In all probability, KL Rahul will replace Mukund, who got a solid 81 in the second innings of Galle. Dhawan will be the other opener and Pujara, who will be playing his 50th Test, will bat at No. 3. Virat Kohli and Rahane will take the other two slots in the middle order. India will contemplate on playing 3 spinners, and if that happens, Kuldeep Yadav might replace Hardik Pandya. Ravi Ashwin and Jadeja will be the spin twins and Kuldeep’s inclusion will further strengthen the spin contingent. Ishant Sharma might return in place of Umesh Yadav while Shami looks certain to play this Test.

Sri Lanka

Karunaratne played a lone hand in the final innings of the Test making a valiant 97. He will open alongside senior statesman Upul Tharanga. Gunathilaka will miss out in the XI as Chandimal will replace him. Kusal Perera will bat at No. 3 with the skipper to follow suit at No. 4. Mathews and Dickwella will have to get stuck in and score runs at 5 and 6. Dilruwan Perera had a decent outing with the bat but has to contribute more with the ball because that is essentially what he is selected in the side for. Herath will play with a free mind as he wouldn’t have to deal with the burden of captaincy. Nuwan Pradeep will open the bowling with Lahiru Kumara, though Sri Lanka might think of playing an extra spinner in the XI.

Predicted XI

India: Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Chetashwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravi Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav/ Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma/ Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami.

Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne, Upul Tharanga, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella, Dilruwan Perera, Rangana Herath, Nuwan Pradeep and Lahiru Kumara

Stat Attack

50 – This will be the 50th Test of Chetashwar Pujara’s career.

34 – Runs required by Pujara to complete 4,000 Test runs. He will be the 15th Indian to do so.

2 – Wickets required by Jadeja to complete 150 Test wickets.

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