Sri Lanka and India will lock horns for one last time in the ODI series at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. So far, there has only been one team that has put in the performances for winning. India have emerged every time as a far stronger side and Sri Lanka have always been chasing the 9 ball.
Virat Kohli changed the pattern in the last game by winning the toss and batting first. Very early in the innings, the visitors just ran away with the match with a superlative partnership between Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. The duo simply toyed with the opponent bowlers and kept sending the ball to the boundaries quite consistently.
Especially, Kohli was looking in an ominous touch. He had suffered 2 low scores and was due for a big score and boy did he deliver! The skipper had reached 131 in just the 30th over and was looking set to get to a double hundred. But in a bid to collect a six, he was bagged by his counterpart Lasith Malinga which was his 300th ODI wicket.
Rohit carried on to make his second century on the trot and ended up with 104. After a slight mishap, Manish Pandey and MS Dhoni took India to a massive 375 courtesy a stand of 101 runs. There was very little resistance from the Sri Lankan batsmen and certainly, no intention to win as they fell short by a huge margin of 168 runs.
The odds would remain heavily in favor of the visitors once again. They would continue their intent of experimentation. But there is no doubt that enforcing a clean sweep would be the priority for the Kohli-led side.
Upul Tharanga will return after his suspension of two games if that’s going to be any inspiration for the hosts. The batting performance throughout the series has been highly disappointing. None of the batsmen have gone on to play the defining innings. Players like Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews and Chamara Kapugedera scored half-centuries but ended up playing the lone hand at the end.
The bowling has been all about one man – Akila Dananjaya. He wreaked havoc in Indian line-up in the 2nd match but they have played him much better in the games that followed. There doesn’t seem to be any source of inspiration coming in from anyone and it will be hugely surprising if this bowling unit poses any threat to the Indian batting.
The opener Shikhar Dhawan had to travel back to India owing to her mother’s illness. Ajinkya Rahane, who is the only player that hasn’t played a single game in the series, will take his place. Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli would look to continue from where they left off in the last game. There are chances that India might choose to bat first again after winning the toss so there could be a change in the batting order.
KL Rahul has had an awful time in the ODI series but India might give him one more opportunity given the very little competition from the opposition. Manish Pandey, who played a handy knock of 50 in the last game, would love to spend some more time in the middle. MS Dhoni has played 3 consecutive decent knocks, he might be promoted up the order as well.
Talking about the bowling department, it was a complete team performance from the unit. Every frontline bowler chipped in with wickets and throughout the series, the bowlers haven’t allowed Sri Lanka to get through to a big score. The highest that they have managed so far was 236 in the 2nd match. Even without the regulars, the bowling unit has given so much confidence to the team management.
Players to watch out for
The regular skipper is set to make a comeback after serving the punishment of 2 match ban. The stand-in skippers Chamara Kapugedera in the 3rd ODI and Lasith Malinga in the 4th ODI, failed to inspire the side. It will be interesting to see what Tharanga has to offer to the depleted team.
The chinaman bagged 2 wickets for 31 in the last game but those 2 dismissals were of the tail-enders. If the regular spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja return for the next series against Australia, this will be the last chance for Kuldeep to make a case for himself as all the other spinners have also done a pretty good job in the series.
Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Upul Tharanga (c), Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Akila Dananjaya, Lasith Malinga, Lakshan Sandakan, Milinda Siriwardana, Vishwa Fernando
India: Virat Kohli(c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma (vc), Manish Pandey, MS Dhoni (wk), KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah