As You Think So You Become
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Friends Match Me Koi Good News Aayega To Running Me Post Karuga
Here's Gokul's first ping: Mostly clear skies, sunny.
That's it. I, Abhishek Chaudhary, am done with the stand-up act. The band will follow soon. For more details on weather, teams and all, scroll down. What's it like in Dambula right now? Well, Gokul Gopal will ping us. Stay tuned...
But now time for some colours in our lives. So the ODI series. India-Sri Lanka matches do not generate the kind of excitement they should. After what happened at the Eden Gardens more than a decade ago, the market should have capitalized on that night's result to create something spicier between these two teams. Market controls everything. Have not you seen how India-Pakistan matches are sold or the Ashes is advertised: You hit me once, I hit you back! But the India-Sri Lanka fixture lacks that because the parties involved share brilliant diplomatic relations and there is not much history of cricketing rivalry between the two. And once you are tackling something as mundane, you have to fall back upon the quality of cricket, which only one team has displayed on the tour so far.
Much like me, Virat Kohli and his men have had a casual Lankan detour so far. They have not been challenged at all. They have been a raucous stream through mountains, and Sri Lanka a paper boat. One of the important cogs in the wheel went missing in the last Test but not for a moment in the game did India appear to be missing Jadeja. India's dominance in the Test series was as much about their quality as about the morass Sri Lanka have got themselves into.
13:30 Local Time, 08:00 GMT, 13:30 IST: Do complacent and casual operate in the same realm? Are both these words an offshoot of a common approach towards an objective? I am not sure. I don't want to be, to be honest. For I am guilty of approaching this series in a manner that can be termed both. I did not go through previews (barring the one at the bottom of the page, that too was just a mere scanning), eschewed those build-ups from the broadcaster. In short, no homework at all. At the cost of sounding arrogant, here is the reason: I knew what was there in those previews. What they have predicted and how even the best of analysis is not going to change a few facts.
Preview by Gokul Gopal
Will Sri Lanka show some fight at all or will the Indian juggernaut continue? This is a question that followers of Sri Lankan cricket have been asking ever since Virat Kohli's team registered a comprehensive victory in the first of three Tests nearly a month back. And the answer they've been getting is one drubbing after another that culminated in a 3-0 clean-sweep of the Test series. So will it be any different when the One Day International series gets underway in Dambulla on Sunday, August 20? Going by the contrasting fortunes of the teams, India's unchallenged, dominating run appears set to continue unless Sri Lanka can muster something special.
Since the start of the year, there has been limited joy and mostly misery for Sri Lanka in the 50-over format, having suffered 11 losses in the 16 games that they have played in 2017 so far. Whitewashed by South Africa, drawing a series against Bangladesh, an early exit from the ICC Champions Trophy and going down to Zimbabwe have left Sri Lanka in a precarious position. They need to win at least two matches in this series to assure themselves a berth in the 2019 World Cup. Failure to do that would mean they'll have to wait for West Indies to lose at least one of their matches within the qualification cut-off date of September 30.
The one positive for Sri Lanka this year in ODI cricket is their surprise victory against India in the Champions Trophy, which then skipper Angelo Mathews had termed as one of their top wins. However, a string of reversals resulted in Mathews stepping down as captain, handing over the mantle to Upul Tharanga. It was at Dambulla where Tharanga had played his first international game way back in 2005 and 12 years later, he's set to lead the side as its full-time captain, having stood-in for Mathews on several occasions in the recent past. Whether or not his initiation turns out to be baptism by fire depends on how much he can lead from the front as much as contributions from the rest of his team-mates.
Sri Lanka do have a talented batting order which includes Danushka Gunathilaka and Kusal Mendis, who were the heroes of Sri Lanka's victory against India in the multi-team even a couple of months back. Along with Niroshan Dickwella, Tharanga and Mathews, Sri Lanka have proven performers occupying the top-five positions, followed by all-round options like Thisara Perera and Milinda Siriwardana. In the bowling department, the experienced Lasith Malinga will spearhead the pace attack that also has Dushmantha Chameera and Vishwa Fernando providing variety. With Mathews also likely to bowl in this series, as confirmed by chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya, it comes as a boost for the hosts, who also have plenty of spin options. While they have all bases covered and possess a squad that looks good on paper, the ammunition would count for little if the guns don't fire.
Meanwhile, India have a a squad brimming with abundance and confidence. Some of the Test regulars have left and the the MSK Prasad-led selection panel also decided to rest R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami. But that doesn't mean Sri Lanka can breathe easy as the ones coming in are able replacements, capable of winning matches on their own. In Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, India have two quality seam options while Hardik Pandya can also pitch in. The spin department is exciting, with the presence of Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel and if this doesn't appear formidable for the hosts, wait for the batting unit.
Rohit Sharma has returned to the ODI squad after being rested for the West Indies ODIs while KL Rahul and Manish Pandey are also back in the squad, having missed the Champions Trophy and the Caribbean tour due to injuries. With the presence of Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane and Kedar Jadhav, along with Pandya and MS Dhoni, captain Virat Kohli has plenty of options, leaving him and the team management with a happy headache. With a rotation policy being proposed by the selection panel to build a core for the World Cup in 2019, the ones presented with an opportunity in this series will be keen to make it count and cement their spots.
When: Sunday, August 20 at 2:30 PM Local Time
Where: Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium
What to expect: With a batting-friendly wicket on offer, 300-plus scores have been achieved twice at this venue this year. It shouldn't be any different for the opening game of the five-match series starting on Sunday. Showers are forecast late in the afternoon, which could lead to a curtailed game.
India: KL Rahul has been confirmed as the No. 4 batsman in the order, with Dhawan, Rohit and Kohli batting above him. With Dhoni and Pandya part of the middle order, there's only one spot left fill. It will be a three-way battle between Jadhav, Pandey and Rahane, and because of his abilities with the ball as well, Jadhav leads the pecking order. Shardul Thakur is likely to warm the bench unless the front-line seam options pick up a niggle ahead of the game. The team management will also be left with some thinking to do as far as the spinners are concerned, with two among Kuldeep, Chahal and Axar expected to feature in the eleven.
Probable XI: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (c), KL Rahul, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah
Skipper Tharanga confirmed that Sri Lanka would go in with two front-line seam options. Malinga and Vishwa Fernando are likely to be the two pacers up front, with Mathews and Thisara Perera fitting in as back-up options. Among spinners, Lakshan Sandakan and Wanidu Hasaranga, who picked up a hat-trick against Zimbabwe, are likely to get the nod.
Probable XI: Danushka Gunathilaka, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Kusal Mendis, Upul Tharanga (c) , Angelo Mathews, Chamara Kapugedera, Wanidu Hasaranga, Thisara Perera, Vishwa Fernando, Lasith Malinga, Lakshan Sandakan
What they said:
"We have 22 to 25 players. We will be rotating them and we will see how they progress. After a certain period of time, we will keep on shortlisting so that we can focus on them at least eight months to one year leading up to the World Cup. Doors are never closed on anybody" - MSK Prasad, India chief selector.
"It's a big relief that Angelo will be able to bowl for us again. We have to manage him carefully and he is at the moment not ready to bowl full quota of ten overs, but he he will certainly be able to bowl five to six overs. That's a big plus point for us as it helps us to balance the side" - Sanath Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka chief selector.
India (From): Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli(c), Lokesh Rahul, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni(w), Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shardul Thakur, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Axar Patel
Sri Lanka (From): Upul Tharanga(c), Niroshan Dickwella(w), Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Chamara Kapugedera, Milinda Siriwardana, Malinda Pushpakumara, Akila Dananjaya, Lakshan Sandakan, Thisara Perera, Wanidu Hasaranga, Lasith Malinga, Dushmantha Chameera, Vishwa Fernando