Big picture: Can Sri Lanka stage a comeback?
The last time India and Sri Lanka played an ODI at Eden Gardens, in 2014, Rohit Sharma smashed a world-record 264. He looked set for a big hundred in Tuesday’s ODI in Guwahati as well before getting out for a 67-ball 83. Still, it was a big positive for India as Rohit was playing his first game after his hand injury in Bangladesh.
Rohit’s decisions regarding the playing XI too proved to be right. Before the opening ODI, he had announced that Shubman Gill was ahead of Ishan Kishan in the pecking order despite the latter scoring the fastest double-century in ODI cricket in his previous match. There was a reason behind that.
Going into the first game, Gill had been the most prolific run-getter in the world in ODIs since his comeback in July last year, with 638 runs at an average of 70.88 and a strike rate of 102.57. He carried on in the same vein in Guwahati, scoring 70 off 60 balls.
The other important decision was the omission of Suryakumar Yadav, who has been making heads turn with his T20I performances. India stuck with Shreyas Iyer, and he chipped in with a handy cameo as the team looked for quick runs to guard against dew in the second innings.
One concern for India is, with Axar Patel slotted at No. 7 and followed by four bowlers, the tail is too long. They have Washington Sundar on the bench, but the question is, whom do they drop to fit him in?
Even though Sri Lanka were outplayed in the first ODI, there were some encouraging signs. Pathum Nissanka scored 72 at the top of the order, Dhananjaya de Silva contributed a 40-ball 47, and Dasun Shanaka continued his good form with an unbeaten hundred.
Having said that, their bowlers need to put in a much-improved performance if they are to keep the series alive. However, it may not be easy given the lack of experience in the bowling unit. It’s also not clear if Dilshan Madushanka will be available for Thursday’s match. The left-arm seamer dislocated his right shoulder while fielding during the first ODI. He was sent for an X-ray and MRI, and the reports are awaited.
India WWLLL (last five completed ODIs, most recent first)
Sri Lanka LWLLW
In the spotlight: Umran Malik and Wanindu Hasaranga
In the absence of Prasidh Krishna, Umran Malik has been tasked with being the enforcer in the middle overs. After impressing during the T20I series, he picked up 3 for 57 from eight overs in the first ODI. At one point, he had figures of 6-0-32-3 before Shanaka took him on at the death. Having already improved his control, perhaps it’s time to incorporate some variations.
From Sri Lanka’s side, the focus will be on Wanindu Hasaranga. While he is among the best spinners in T20I cricket, his ODI record is a bit underwhelming. In 35 ODIs, he has 39 wickets at an average of 36.51. But he is the leading wicket-taker in the squad, and his team requires him to step up.
Team news: Will India go unchanged?
Before the series, Rohit said India were not looking to chop and change. So expect them to go with an unchanged XI, especially after a win in the first game.
India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Shreyas Iyer, 5 KL Rahul (wk), 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Mohammed Shami, 9 Umran Malik, 10 Mohammed Siraj, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
Sri Lanka could bring in Lahiru Kumara if Madushanka is unavailable. No other changes are expected.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Pathum Nissanka, 2 Avishka Fernando, 3 Kusal Mendis (wk), 4 Charith Asalanka, 5 Dhananjaya de Silva, 6 Dasun Shanaka (capt), 7 Wanindu Hasaranga, 8 Dunith Wellalage, 9 Chamika Karunaratne, 10 Kasun Rajitha, 11 Dilshan Madushanka/Lahiru Kumara
Pitch and conditions: Haze at Eden Gardens?
Eden Gardens last hosted an ODI more than five years ago when India, batting first, were all out for 252. In response, Australia folded for just 202. There is no forecast of rain, but it could be hazy at times. During the daytime, the temperature will be around 25°C but could drop by more than 10° at night.
Stats and trivia
- Virat Kohli (12,584) needs 67 runs to go past Mahela Jayawardene’s ODI tally of 12650 and move to fifth position on the list of top run-getters in the format.
- Since the start of 2010, India have played 24 bilateral ODI series at home. Of those, they have lost only three – against Pakistan in 2012, South Africa in 2015 and Australia in 2019.
- Avishka Fernando is 31 short of 1000 runs in ODI cricket. If he reaches there on Thursday, in his 28th innings, he will be the joint second-fastest to the landmark from his country, along with Upul Tharanga and Kusal Mendis. Roy Dias holds the Sri Lankan record, getting there in 27 innings.