The stakes are high ahead of the third and final Test at the Brabourne Stadium. An Indian win and a 2-0 series verdict will propel the host to the top of the ICC Test rankings for the first time.

And if the Sri Lankans manage to level the series 1-1, the feat would mark the island nation's first Test victory on Indian soil.

The match, beginning on Wednesday, has all the portents for an engaging duel of Test match cricket. Who will be the chief protagonists on the big stage?

The principal architect of India's thumping win at Green Park, Santhakumaran Sreesanth, had an injury scare during practice session on Tuesday when he hurt the little finger of his bowling hand.

However, Sreesanth bowled and batted without discomfort after receiving treatment. Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni insisted the swing bowler would be playing the Test.

The pacemen, at least in the initial stages, could relish bowling on the surface here. The pitch is likely to offer more bounce than the one at Kanpur; there could be movement off the seam as well.

Bounce in the surface is good news for spinners too. It's the combination of turn and bounce that provides cutting edge to the spinners.

Despite the early threat from the pacemen, batting first would be the viable option for the captain winning the toss.

Backing the top-order to survive the first session and then building a sizeable first innings total should be the right game-plan. The ball would definitely spin from the third day and batting last on this wicket could prove hazardous.

The Indian eleven for the Test could sport just one change, brought about by opener Gautam Gambhir's absence. M. Vijay is likely to open with the punishing Virender Sehwag.

The Sri Lankans would be eying a possible chink in the Indian line-up. Gambhir added immense value to the side with his approach and commitment and Vijay requires to bat with responsibility.

Apart from Gambhir's form, the fact that it would not have to switch its line to a left-right combination till Yuvraj Singh makes an appearance, might allow the Sri Lankan attack to breathe easier.

Both, during the second innings in Ahmedabad and in India's only innings at Kanpur, Gambhir batted for long periods, stringing together partnerships with right-handed batsmen.

Muttiah Muralitharan, among those off-spinners who prefer bowling at right-handers, could settle into a better line here. Gambhir, with nimble footwork, had coped particularly well with the off-spinning legend.

Muralitharan will be under sharp focus. This, by all accounts, is his last Test in India and he will be keen to leave his imprint on an arena steeped in history.

The Sri Lankan has largely struggled in the series, his bowling lacking customary bite and turn. However, if the surface offers more bounce, Muralitharan could rediscover the fizz in his bowling. Rangana Herath, who impressed with his drift and spin in Kanpur, could also emerge as a factor.

Crucially, the Sri Lankans would have to peg back the rate of Indian scoring to create stress.

The Sri Lankans are expected to pick paceman Nuwan Kulasekara for the disappointing Ajantha Mendis; despite signs of improvement from a hamstring strain, paceman Dammika Prasad has been ruled out of the Test. The visitors are likely to field three paceman, including all-rounder Angelo Mathews, and two spinners.

This has been an ordinary series for Mathews but skipper Kumar Sangakkara has immense faith in the all-rounder's ability.

At Kanpur, the Sri Lankan batting crumbled under pressure after India posted a huge first innings total. Sangakkara would want greater resolve and application from his batsmen.

Both sides would be seeking partnerships in bowling and batting. For instance, left-arm paceman Zaheer Khan's role will not be limited to his bowling alone. He would also be creating the rough for off-spinner Harbhajan Singh to exploit. And the Indian slip catching will need to be sharp.

The teams: India (from): M.S. Dhoni (captain), V. Sehwag, M. Vijay, R. Dravid, S. Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman, Yuvraj, Harbhajan, Zaheer, S. Sreesanth, P. Ojha, S. Badrinath, A. Mishra, I. Sharma.

Sri Lanka (from): K. Sangakkara (captain), T. Dilshan, T. Paranavitana, M. Jayawardene, T. Samaraweera, A. Mathews, P. Jayawardene, N. Kulasekara, M. Muralitharan, R. Herath, C. Welegedara, D. Fernando, A. Mendis, K. Silva, T. Kandamby.

Umpires: D. Harper & N. Long; Third umpire: S. Tarapore; Match Referee: J. Crowe

Plays starts at 9.30 am

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