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Sri Lanka seek historic series triumph in India

Updated December 17, 2017

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MAHENDRA Singh Dhoni checks his bats during a practice session ahead of India’s third ODI against Sri Lanka.—AP
MAHENDRA Singh Dhoni checks his bats during a practice session ahead of India’s third ODI against Sri Lanka.—AP

VISAKHAPATNAM: An imposing line-up and an impeccable record in this port city make India the clear favourites as they seek to clinch another series win against Sri Lanka in the third and final ODI here on Sunday.

India have not lost a series at home since the defeat to South Africa in October 2015.

Sri Lanka, on the other hand, are seeking to win their first-ever bilateral series in India, having lost eight and drawn one.

Skipper Rohit Sharma led the fightback for India in Mohali with a superb double century, his third in ODIs after the team had been outplayed in the series opener in Dharamsala.

Sharma and his men will look to ride the momentum after a big win in the second game and seal the series at the ACA-VDCA stadium.

The Indian team have lost only once at the venue in the seven games played here (with one being washed out) and will hope to keep winning on what has generally been a high-scoring ground.

Defeat in Dharamsala meant India can’t overtake South Africa in the ODI rankings but a series win is at stake. Rohit’s men will look to maintain supremacy over the visiting Lankans, having won the Test series earlier.

Hosts remain favourites

The India captain will look to continue the good work and domination of the Lankan attack while the other batsmen will also hope to be among runs. After being shot out for 112 in Dharamsala, the host batting line-up regained its mojo as Rohit led from the front.

The importance of bowling well in the first 10 overs can’t be overemphasised and the lead bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah would be well aware of this as would Lanka’s spearhead Suranga Lakmal.

Sri Lanka, buoyed by news about the availability of ace all-rounder Angelo Mathews for the crucial game, will be give it their all to snatch a much-needed series win, in what has been a tough year for them.

Mathews scored a ton, albeit in a losing cause in Mohali and will be the lynchpin of the batting unit, which is short on experience, as the squad aims to secure a rare series win in India.

The Lankans were brought crashing down to earth after a good win at Dharamsala as Rohit went on the rampage and their batsmen capitulated under the pressure of chasing a mammoth score.

Mathews’ return to form must be heartening news for them as is the fact that he is bowling some overs, and with a degree of success too.

Upul Tharanga needs to step up and make a bigger contribution. The other batters including Lahiru Thirimanne, Danusha Gunathilaka and Niroshan Dickwella, have been inconsistent and will have to find ways to make sizeable scores.

The bowlers, on the other hand, will look to recover quickly from the horror show as Rohit turned on the heat. Nuwan Pradeep, who was taken for 106 in 10 overs, will look for redemption if he retains his place in the XI while Suranga Lakmal holds the key for Sri Lanka.

Teams (from):

INDIA: Rohit Sharma (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik, Manish Pandey, M S Dhoni (wicket-keeper), Hardik Pandya, M S Washington Sundar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Ajinkya Rahane, Axar Patel, Siddarth Kaul

SRI LANKA: Thisara Perera (captain), Upul Tharanga, Danusha Gunathilaka, Lahiru Thirimanne, Asela Gunaratne, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Niroshan Dickwella (wicket-keeper), Dhananjaya de Silva, Angelo Matthews, Sachith Pathirana, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Akila Dhanajaya, Chathuranga de Silva, Dushmantha Chameera, Kusal Perera.

Published in Dawn, December 17th, 2017