Sri Lanka need to brace for India response
For Sri Lanka their day five implosion at Eden Gardens was nothing new, they had collapsed twice even in triumphing over Pakistan and were abject in South Africa.
But for the hosts there was a new sensation, they found themselves on the ropes, at home, against an opponents that have never won in India.
India’s preoccupation with the South Africa tour led them to effectively cede home advantage by trotting out a green pitch.
Much like he had done in South Africa, Suranga Lakmal found his line and length quickly and made things difficult for India on a rain hit opening day.
Of course India would fight back and some including us here at Cricket365 feel that Kohli might have declared earlier with Sri Lanka conspiring to lose seven wickets in 26 overs and three balls.
For Sri Lanka there is no time to reflect on what went wrong as they now face a shift back to more traditional pitches as the series moves to Nagpur.
Sri Lanka have lost their chance to put India on the back foot and we expect an emphatic response from the hosts especially with bat in hand.
Kohli tonned up in Kolkata but his run hunger will be far from sated while the other batsmen will be looking to make up for a disappointing show first time out.
Nagpur could bring Sri Lanka’s portly veteran spin wizard Rangana Herath into the game but the same could be said for India’s Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin who were reduced to supporting roles at Eden Gardens.
As much as Sri Lanka were able to compete for a good portion of the first Test their propensity to go to pieces on day five remains troubling and is perhaps symptomatic of a team in crisis.
We were nearly made to eat out words when we predicted Sri Lanka would be blown away at Eden Gardens but we can’t see them getting a win in Nagpur.
India are without man of the match in Kolkata Bhuvneshwar Kumar who will be getting married and opener Shikhar Dhawan.
The pitch will likely determine whether Sri Lanka play Dhananjaya de Silva or Dasun Shanaka in the allrounder slot.
Cheteshwar Pujara showed his value as he kept his head in a collapse in the first innings in Kolkata and he will again be central to India’s run making.
Ashwin is the kind of bowler who challenges himself to get better all the time and he will want to get back to his best in Nagpur.
Dinesh Chandimal needs to hold this team together with his batting, with Angelo Mathews back to play a more aggressive role the skipper needs to put a high price on his wicket.
Herath has proven himself to be a match-winner all over Asia but a win in India eludes him, he will have to bowl out of his skin for Sri Lanka to get close.
India (Likely): 1 Murali Vijay, 2 Lokesh Rahul, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Virat Kohli (capt.), 5 Ajinkya Rahane, 6 Ravi Ashwin, 7 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 8 Ravindra Jadeja, 9 Mohammed Shami, 10 Ishant Sharma 11 Umesh Yadav.
Sri Lanka (liekly): 1 Dimuth Karunaratne, 2 Sadeera Samarawickrama, 3 Lahiru Thirimanne, 4 Dinesh Chandimal (capt.), 5 Angelo Mathews, 6 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 7 Dasun Shanaka ,8 Dilruwan Perera, 9 Suranga Lakmal, Rangana Herath, 11 Vishwa Fernando
Last five head-to-head results
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
2015 Third Test: India won by 117 runs in Colombo (SSC)
Match days: 24-28 November 2017
Hours of play (local time): 09.30 start (04:00 GMT 06:00 SAST), Lunch 12.00-12.40, Tea 14.40-15.00, Close 16.30
Umpires: Richard Kettleborough and Joel Wilson
TV Umpire: Nigel Llong
Reserve Umpire: Chettithody Shamshuddin
Match Referee: David Boon
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