Sri Lanka v India, 2nd Test – India Predicted XI

Sri Lanka v India, 2nd Test – India Predicted XI

India will be keen to gain an unassailable lead in the Colombo Test.

Ravichandran Ashwin India
Indian bowler Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates with his teammates. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)

India recorded their second win at the Galle International Stadium when they registered a 304-run win over the Islanders. Galle happens to be the only venue where they had lost on the tour of 2015, hence the win will be very satisfying. They dominated in the entire length of the Test match and never allowed the home side to claw their way back in the game.

Sri Lanka will be happy to have Chandimal back in the side. The return of Thirimanne in the squad in place of Asela Gunaratne has further bolstered the batting. It is important for the Islanders to start afresh and look to counter attack the visitors. Sri Lanka have happy memories of the SCC as they defeated Australia convincingly at this venue last summer. They need big performances from their seniors – Chandimal, Mathews, Tharanga, Pradeep, and Herath – to give India a run for their money.

India have slipped into fifth gear without breaking into a sweat. Such is the confidence of this side after having a successful 12 months in Test cricket, where they won 12 out of 16 Tests. Yes, most of them were played at home but it is still a telling statistic. The bench strength of the No. 1 Test side has won a lot of praises. A few injuries occurred during the course of the long Test season but India had replacements ready and were never worried about missing top players due to injury. Kohli & Co. will be looking to finish things off in Colombo itself.

Let us look at the Predicted XI of India for the second Test at the SCC:

Openers (Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul)

Dhawan, who had plans of spending the summer holidaying in Australia, made a memorable return to the Test XI after KL Rahul missed out in the first Test due to a viral fever. Such was the impact of his innings that the hosts were left reeling with no answers to his brutal assault. The game was, virtually, out of the home side’s bounds after Dhawan galloped his way to a career best 190 which came off just 167 balls. This knock has given a new lease of life for Dhawan in the whites and he will be looking to build on it to perpetuate his position in the side.

Rahul has happy memories of this ground; it is the same venue where the elegant right-hander notched up his 2nd Test century in 2015. The 25-year old has recovered from his illness and looks set to make a comeback to professional cricket after being out of action for four months. He was the second highest run-getter for India during the home series against Australia, where he batted with an injured shoulder which limited his stroke play. Rahul has established permanence in the Test XI but Dhawan’s form coupled with Murali Vijay’s overseas brilliance might worry him a wee bit.

Middle Order (Chestashwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Wriddhiman Saha)

The spotlight will be on Pujara, who will be playing his 50th Test match. The 29-year old has been the best Indian batsman in the longer format of the game. His consistency and the tenacity of playing the long innings has harbored well for the side. He produced another typical Pujara-like innings at Galle to set up the game for his team.

Kohli ended a dry-spell with the bat in the whites when he notched up his 17th Test ton in the second innings of the last game. Prior to that, the Indian skipper had gotten just 49 runs in his last 6 Test innings. As a result of his unbowed 103, Kohli’s Test average has now surged towards the north of 50. He will like to contribute again with the bat, which he did for the entire Test season last year.

Rahane has gone 17 innings without a Test hundred after getting a career best 188 against Sout Africa in Indore last year. It is a surprising period of slump for one of India’s finest batsmen in Test cricket. In these 17 innings, the 29-year old has gone past fifty just thrice, scoring 474 runs at 33.86. The Test vice-captain has a century to his name at Colombo, which will boost his confidence going into this game.

Wriddhiman Saha missed out in the last Test with the bat but averages close to 50 this year in Test cricket. He is safe as a house behind the stumps and has now built a reputation of playing gritty innings with the bat lower down the order. Saha has become an incumbent No. 7 in the test line up.

All-rounders (Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja)

Ashwin perched to the peak of his Test career during the long strenuous home Test season last year. But a closer look at his Test statistics recently doesn’t give a great picture. Ashwin has just 10 wickets at 41.7 in the last 3 Test matches. In the last 7 innings with the bat, the right-hander has 5 single digit scores to his name. Not the ideal statistics to go into the second Test match but such has been the quality of the player that you expect him to turn around his fortunes sooner rather than later.

Jadeja has been sharper than Ashwin all this while. Together, both of them have established a fine partnership with the ball. Jadeja is way too talented to be wasted at No. 9 hence India must look to get him up to at least 8. He picked 6 wickets in the match in the last game to warm up for the series and rest of the season.

Bowlers (Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammad Shami and Ishant Sharma)

Kuldeep Yadav might get a look in ahead of Hardik Pandya as India will be tempted to go in with three spinners. Yadav did a splendid job in his debut Test at Dharamsala and is a tough customer to pick from the hand.

Shami bowled well at the docile wicket of Galle to return with match figures of 3/88. He has the pace which is handy at unresponsive wickets. Virat Kohli likes Shami’s style of bowling and will be keen to retain the Bengal bowler for this Test.

Ishant Sharma, the most capped player in the current Test squad, might get a game ahead of Umesh Yadav, who had a forgettable game at Galle. He conceded runs in the match at an alarming rate of 5.21 and could pick just two wickets. India needs a bowler who could do the controlling job and get the odd wicket here and there. Ishant fits the bill perfectly and could expect to add to his 77 Test caps at the SCC.