Sri Lanka ill-prepared to run the gauntlet
Sri Lanka head into the tour of India with few predicting anything other than a 3-0 spanking in the Test series.
Under Virat Kohli India have risen to number one in the world and whatever you make of the rankings there is no disputing that they are a tough prospect at home even for world class sides.
Quite what level Sri Lanka are is up for debate but nobody would be so bold as to call them the best in the world.
A win over Pakistan in the UAE may have given them confidence but what the Tests gave the limited overs internationals took away for some players.
Sri Lanka will rely heavily on the performance of Rangana Herath a man unscarred by the limited overs debacle in the UAE having retired from the formats some time ago.
Herath got through a mountain of work in the Test series triumph over Pakistan but while their opponents there were fragile India are imperious.
Che Pujara is a run machine while openers Lokesh Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan were in good touch when they last played red ball cricket and even after Kohli departs there is plenty more batting to come.
The one curve ball that might come both team’s way is the green tint to the Eden Gardens wicket for the first Test.
India may only play one of their deadly spin duo of Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja with Bhuvneshwar Kumar likely to join Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav in a three pronged pace attack.
For Sri Lanka the green wicket may conjure to memory their nightmare Test series whitewash in South Africa at the turn of the year.
Sri Lanka’s preparation has been beset by speculation on who will become the full-time coach as well as injuries and disquiet in the dressing room.
Even with the return of Angelo Mathews Sri Lanka’s batting hasn’t got the look of stability that India have polished and put on display for all the world to see.
India are likely to have too much firepower for Sri Lanka in all departments with the tourists struggling to find and field their strongest XI.
Pujara is the quiet cog in India’s run machine but he so often sets up victory for his team.
Umesh Yadav has become India’s pace lynchpin over the course of that last year and even with an extra seamer coming in expect him to lead the wickets column.
The skipper Dinesh Chandimal needs to lead from the front and find a way to keep his team in the game long enough to put the hosts under pressure.
India (probable): 1 Lokesh Rahul, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Virat Kohli (c), 5 Ajinkya Rahane, 6 Rohit Sharma, 7 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 8 R Ashwin, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Umesh Yadav.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Dimuth Karunaratne, 2 Sadeera Samarawickrama, 3 Dhananjaya de Silva, 4 Dinesh Chandiwal (c), 5 Angelo Mathews, 6 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 7 Lahiru Thirimanne/ Dasun Shanaka ,8 Dilruwan Perera, 9 Suranga Lakmal, Rangana Herath, 11 Vishwa Fernando
Last five head-to-head results
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)
2015 Second Test: India won by 277 runs in Colombo (PSS)
16/11 – 06:00 AM SAST, 08:00 AM GMT
1st Test India vs Sri Lanka at Kolkata, Nov 16-20 2017
Umpires: Richard Kettleborough, Nigel Llong
TV Umpire: Joel Wilson
Reserve Umpire: Anil Chaudhary
Match Referee: David Boon
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