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History beckons for India in Delhi

India have the chance to level Australia’s world record of nine successive Test series wins when they face Sri Lanka in Delhi from Saturday.

The home side lead the series 1-0 after winning the second match in Nagpur and the Eden Gardens stalemate.

India have been racking up the milestones in recent times but skipper Virat Kohli has been quick to shut down any suggestion that his team are focused on anything other than winning this series.

They have given the appearance of being preoccupied with their impending visit to South Africa even rolling out a green wicket in Kolkata but have also shown themselves to have more than enough quality to blow Sri Lanka out of the water.

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Sri Lanka were competitive in Kolkata for much of the game before a day five collapse saw them scramble to save the game.

The tourists have tried to be positive on this tour but in practice they have been reckless and have shown poor shot selection at critical moments with only opener Dimuth Karunaratne showing a stomach for the fight consistently.

India will have to try to accommodate all their batting talent in the XI with Shikhar Dhawan returning after Murali Vijay hit a hundred in the second Test while Lokesh Rahul has struggled to recapture last season’s form.

Ishant Sharma will have another opportunity to try and book a place on the tour to South Africa while Bhuvneshwar Kumar is absent.

The paceman has inside knowledge of the ground where he plies his trade in first class cricket and has already proved a handful for Sri Lanka’s top order in this series.

Sri Lanka will have to do without Rangana Herath with Jeffrey Vandersay called into the squad as cover for the veteran left-arm spinner.

Left-arm wrist spinner Lakshan Sandakan is likely to replace Herath in the XI given his Test track record and ability to make things happen.

India’s number six position has been the subject of much conjecture looking ahead to South Africa with Hardik Pandya the current frontrunner while India may use Ravi Ashwin or Ravindra Jadeja in the slot to squeeze in an extra bowler. Rohit Sharma looks set to play this Test though after his hundred in Nagpur.

India are naturally heavily favoured to come out on top and should have too much firepower for the inconsistent Sri Lankans.

Key Players

Cheteshwar Pujara provides the steel in a talented batting lineup and often holds things together when the flashier players fail.

Ashwin does such a great job of knocking teams over especially as the match wears on and he looks in fine rhythm.

Sri Lanka need runs from their top order and in particular the skipper Chandimal who has shown flashes of his ability but has also been inconsistent.

Suranga Lakmal has troubled India’s batsmen since his brilliant opening spell in Kolkata and will be dangerous early.

Squads

India: Virat Kohli (capt), M Vijay, KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Vijay Shankar.

Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (capt), Dimuth Karunaratne, Dhananjaya de Silva, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Angelo Mathews, Lahiru Thirimanne, Suranga Lakmal, Dilruwan Perera, Lahiru Gamage, Lakshan Sandakan, Vishwa Fernando, Dasun Shanaka, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Roshen Silva, Jeffrey Vandersay.

Last five head-to-head results

2017 Second Test: India won by an innings and 239 runs in Nagpur
2017 First Test: Drawn match at Eden Gardens
2017 Third Test: India won by an innings and 171 runs in Pallekele
2017 Second Test: India won by an innings and 53 runs in Colombo (SSC)
2017 First Test: India won by 304 runs in Galle

Details

Hours of play (local time): 09.30 (04:00 GMT  06:00 SAST) start, Lunch 12.00-12.40, Tea 14.40-15.00, Close 16.30
Match days: 2-6 December 2017
Umpires: Nigel Llong, Joel Wilson
TV Umpires: Richard Kettleborough
Reserve Umpire: CK Nandan
Match Referee: David Boon