India needs to pull up its socks against Lanka

EARLY END: Sri Lanka's Thilan Samaraweera and Mahela Jayawardene leave in a hurry as rain interruped their practice session on Sunday.  

Yuvraj Singh, diagnosed with dengue, will miss India's match against Sri Lanka at the Rangiri Stadium on Monday. And left-arm paceman Ashish Nehra is a doubtful starter for the third game of the Micromax ODI tri-series with a strained glute.

Indian team manager Ranjib Biswal told The Hindu that Yuvraj was out of danger. “It's not a bad attack. The symptoms are mild. He is staying with the team. He should recover in three to four days.”

Opener Dinesh Karthik's thumb injury is not serious and paceman Ishant Sharma has recovered well from an ankle strain.

Following the nightmare under the lights against the Kiwis in the tournament opener, India needs a win like oxygen.

Lagging behind

New Zealand has five points from two matches, including a bonus, and a net run-rate of +1.684. Sri Lanka has four points from one game at +0.936. Without a point after one duel, India lags behind with - 4.00.

India not only requires at least two victories in its remaining three matches to go through, but may also need a bonus point along the way.

A defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka would put the team under enormous pressure in its last two matches.

It rained here on Sunday and there could be a cloud cover during Monday's game.

Even otherwise, there could be a tad more moisture on the surface. An already seamer-friendly pitch could assist the pacemen further.

Toss factor

The toss is important but as Sri Lanka showed against New Zealand, a team needs to back itself even if it finishes at the wrong end of the spin of the coin.

The Sri Lankan pacemen struck early — there is considerable movement for the seamers in the first hour — and then the host maintained its grip on the Kiwi batting.

Despite a stutter in the final stages, Sri Lanka was mostly in control of its successful chase.

India too dented the Kiwi line-up with the new ball but missed opportunities and could not maintain pressure from both the ends. Creating stressful situations is a lot about bowling in partnerships.

Then, the Indian batting capitulated.

Virat Kohli should come in for Yuvraj. That he can play the cut and the pull — this right-hander is strong off the back-foot — works in his favour. On pitches such as the one here, it is crucial to put away deliveries lacking in length.

Application, decisive footwork, and judicious stroke-play should be the key for the Indian batsmen.

These elements were lacking against a disciplined New Zealand attack.

Even in the abbreviated forms of the game, it is important to stay at the crease and build partnerships.

Malinga threat

For the Indian batsmen, the mercurial Lasith Malinga will be a distinct threat.

The return of Ishant and the addition of Munaf Patel could make up for Nehra's likely absence. Nehra's left-arm variation, two-way deviation and the ability to bowl at the death makes him valuable. Yet, if the tall Ishant and Munaf hit the deck with precision, there could be reward for them. Praveen Kumar's swing makes him a handy bowler in these conditions.

Ravindra Jadeja displayed some pluck with the willow but then his left-arm spin is hardly making an impression these days. Off-spinner R. Ashwin could combine better with Pragyan Ojha's left-arm spin in the vital middle-overs. And Ashwin's batting is under-rated.

Sri Lanka has depth in batting and variety with the ball. Left-handed opener Upul Tharanga is in form but the belligerent Tillakaratne Dilshan represents a bigger danger for India.

The openers are followed by the likes of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera. Any of them could come up with a decisive innings. All-rounder Angelo Mathews' role will also be critical.

The host has a balanced pace-attack that can strike and contain.

And spinners Ajantha Mendis and Rangana Herath bowled well in tandem in the first game. It remains to be seen if Sri Lanka will field lanky off-spinner Suraj Randiv against India.

The quality of floodlights here has also come under scrutiny.

The organisers, however, insist the power has been increased from1000-1100 watts during the Asia Cup to between 1300 and 1400 now; the stadium has eight floodlight towers with 21 bulbs in each of them.

Sangakkara said the Indians should be good enough to chase under the lights. The Sri Lankan captain added that teams do not depend on a day's practice leading to matches — the Indians had been unhappy with the pitches for the net sessions here.

The teams (from):

India: M.S. Dhoni (captain), V. Sehwag, D. Karthik, S. Raina, R. Sharma, V. Kohli, R. Ashwin, O. Ojha, P. Kumar, M. Patel, I. Sharma, A. Nehra, R. Jadeja, A. Mithun and S. Tiwary.

Sri Lanka: K. Sangakkara (captain), T. Dilshan, U. Tharanga, M. Jayawardene, T. Samaraweera, C. Kapugedera, A. Mathews, N. Kulasekara, L. Malinga, A. Mendis, S. Randiv, R. Herath, D. Fernando, T. Perera and C. Silva.

Play starts at 2.30 p.m. IST.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2021 9:38:39 AM |

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