Third Test preview: Sri Lanka v India
Sri Lanka have been hammered by injuries and will have to do without both Nuwan Pradeep and Rangana Herath in the final test against India in Pallekele.
The stage is set for someone like Lakshan Sandakan to impress and give fans of cricket in Sri Lanka something positive to take out of the series.
Sandakan took seven wickets on his debut against Australia which was the most recent Test at the venue.
Since then he has claimed just eight wickets in the four Tests he has played in struggling to adjust to top flight cricket with opportunities hard to come by.
From one left-arm spinner to another, Kuldeep Yadav comes into the India XI, or at least we expect him to and brings an air of mystery to India’s attack.
The left-arm wrist spinner has also found opportunities in Test cricket hard to come by but impressed in his debut against Australia.
Pallekele is known as the best wicket for seamers in Sri Lanka, while that isn’t saying much Mitchell Starc showed the first morning can be challenging last year.
Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami have bowled well this series playing their part on the dry Lankan wickets and may find themselves rewarded if they get first crack at a shakey top order.
India will be confident that their in-form top order can continue to dominate the Sri Lankan bowlers, while Dusmantha Chameera will hope for some assistance as he bids to make a Test comeback.
The seamer may play his first Test since December 2016.
Cheteshwar Pujara has been the rock for India this series providing the foundation for two 600 run plus first innings scores so far with a pair of hundreds.
Sri Lanka will be hoping that Kusal Mendis can find that kind of consistency and provide them with the big runs that have been lacking from senior batsmen Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews.
With Ravindra Jadeja banned Ashwin will be bidding to reel his teammate and number two Test bowler James Anderson in with a top performance in the final Test.
Kusal Mendis has shown that he can resist the India bowlers and even attack when necessary, if he can provide Sri Lanka a platform they may stand a fighting chance.
Lakshan Sandakan is a bowler who could cause trouble for India’s accomplished batsmen and the hosts will be hoping he can recapture his debut form.
Pujara has been a pillar of consistency and you feel his big runs are now expected and needed to build India’s innings.
Ashwin is likely to prove the difference between the two sides and his march to smashing records looks set to roll on.
Sri Lanka squad: Dinesh Chandimal (capt), Upul Tharanga, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Dilruwan Perera, Lahiru Kumara, Vishwa Fernando, Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiru Gamage, Lakshan Sandakan, Malinda Pushpakumara
India XI (Likely): Lokesh Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (capt), Ajinkya Rahane, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav.
Last five Head-to-Head-results
2017 Second Test: India won by an innings and 53 runs at the Sinhalese Sports Club
2017 First Test: India won by 304 runs in Galle
2015 Third Test: India won by 117 runs at the Sinhalese Sports Club
2015 Second Test: India won by 278 runs at the Premadasa stadium
2015 First Test: Sri Lanka won by 63 runs in Galle
10am start (4:30GMT) , Lunch 12.00-12.40, Tea 14.40-15.00, Close 17.00
Umpires: Rod Tucker and Richard Illingworth
TV Umpire: Bruce Oxenford
Match Referee: Richie Richardson
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