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Sri Lanka v India, 1st Test – Sri Lanka Predicted XI

Having been toyed around by Zimbabwe in the recently concluded home series, Sri Lanka are still nursing their wounds and will be itching to start off the series on a positive note.

Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan team. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)

With the much-awaited series between India and Sri Lanka is all set to begin with the first Test match on Wednesday. Having been toyed around by Zimbabwe in the recently concluded home series, Sri Lanka are still nursing their wounds and will be itching to start off the series on a positive note. To ensure this against the clear favourites, India, the Lankans must get their player formula bang on target.

To add to their existing woes of the coaching staff upheaval, Dinesh Chandimal has been ruled out of the first couple of games with pneumonia. As for India, KL Rahul has been struck down by a bout of viral fever and is most likely to be replaced by Abhinav Mukund for opening duties.

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The No.1 Test side definitely looks stronger and captain, Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara as well as vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane are expected to go all guns blazing at the opposition. Here is the Predicted XI for the Sri Lankan team:

Openers (Upul Tharanga and Dimuth Karunaratne)

Upul Tharanga, who had been out of the team as recently as a year ago, has been entrusted with the important responsibility of opening the innings for them. Having scored a gritty knock of 71 runs in the first innings against Zimbabwe in the only Test of the series, before being run out, Tharanga will look to dominate the scenario.

29-year old, Karunaratne, who possesses comprehensive figures of 2469 runs in 39 Test matches, at an average of 33.82, will surely be eager to make his mark in this series after his outings worth 25 and 49 runs in the two innings respectively, against Zimbabwe.

Middle Order (Kusal Mendis, Danushka Gunathilaka and Niroshan Dickwella )

In the absence of Chandimal, Kusal Mendis has to bear the responsibility of providing stability to the middle-order of the team. Mendis will look to exploit his batting potential to the fullest and better his existing average of 35.85 against the Indian men. Danushka Gunathilaka, on the other hand, will be vying his debut at the Galle Stadium into the Test format. The 26-year old has already amassed 836 runs in just 26 ODI matches and is expected to extend his prowess to the longer format.

Wicketkeeper-batsman, Niroshan Dickwella‘s role will be crucial for the Lankans. Having played just 7 Test matches in his career till date, Dickwella is yet to establish himself into the format. However, he’s sure to drive heart from his career best score of 81 runs in the second innings against Zimbabwe, that won the match for his team.

All-rounder (Angelo Matthews and Asela Gunaratne)

Angelo Matthews has been Sri Lanka’s most trusted all-rounder for close to a decade now and he will have to shoulder the lion’s share of the responsibilities if Sri Lanka are to taste victory at the Galle. Young all-rounder, Asela Gunaratne, on the other hand, was lauded richly for his mammoth partnership worth 121 runs with Dickwella in the only Test against Zimbabwe and was also named the Player of the Match. He will have to keep his cool and play sensibly with both the bat and the ball in the upcoming match.

Bowlers (Dilruwan Perera, Rangana Herath (C), Lahiru Kumara and Nuwan Pradeep)

Coming to the spin department, 35-year old Perera, who picked up 4 wickets against Zimbabwe at an economy of 3.37 will be the pick of the bowlers for the Lankans. Furthermore, 39-year old Herath is guaranteed to be instrumental to Sri Lanka’s being able to make a mark in the series against India. As captain, he will have the additional onus of marshalling his troops in the most resourceful manner.

As for the pacers, Lahiru Kumara having picked up 3 wickets against Zimbabwe, is expected to be a part of the team, with Nuwan Pradeep to provide him support from the opposite end. As the pitch being touted as a hard one with a generous covering of grass, these two pacers will be able to unleash themselves on the visitors by feasting on the bounce factor.

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