SL face a test of character

Match details

PCA IS Bindra Stadium, Mohali
December 13, Wednesday; 11:30 IST
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The main picture

Sunday’s result showed why we love sports, in general: stature doesn’t matter, past results don’t matter and being a favourite counts for nothing. And in terms of cricket, a flip of the coin can have a massive bearing on the result. So, it essentially is equivalent of life: you cannot always control what happens to you but how you react to what happens to you and how you make the best use of a situation are all that matter.

Sri Lanka made the best use of the conditions in Dharamsala and took advantage of winning the toss and bowling first, which is why they deservedly are 0-1 up in this series. They might have surprised themselves at the ease with which they won and the massive margin of victory, but on the day, they were way more superior than the favourite.

It was the first match of a series once again and with the conditions in his favour, Suranga Lakmal reminded us once more that you take him lightly at your peril, while Angelo Mathews showed how dangerous he can be with the new ball, even by bowling at 115 to 120 kilometres per hour. This duo’s bowling shaped the first ODI and the result was pretty much sealed by the time Lakmal finished his spell (4/13 in 10 overs) with India 29/7.

India have talked all along about preparing for the South Africa tour and wanting to play in conditions akin to what they will encounter there. And this experience might have come in handy had the batting line-up not been bereft of Murali Vijay, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara,┬áVirat Kohli, and Ajinkya Rahane. I hope the home team haven’t dissected the batting performance in Dharamsala, where batting was quite simply difficult. And this was not ‘Test’ cricket either. Having said so, you can expect the Indian batsmen to be nervous after that shocker.

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s second ODI, toss may once again hold the key. With the 11:30 AM start and possible moisture in the air and on the pitch, batsmen will not enjoy facing two new kookaburra balls. When the conditions are as bowler-friendly as we saw in Dharamsala, the bowling side have a massive advantage because of the use of two new balls (apart from the conditions themselves) and their staying relatively new and conducive for swing for longer.

Sri Lanka’s reaction to being in this unfamiliar position of having a series lead (and not to forget of winning an ODI after having lost 12 in a row) will determine whether they can secure a series victory tomorrow. Do they suddenly find themselves under pressure? Or, do they still look at themselves as underdogs who have the potential to spring the odd surprise? Mind you, the popular expectation is that India will bounce back and Rohit Sharma said the Dharamsala defeat is an eye-opener for him and his team. And the modern Indian team have the habit of bouncing back from being behind in a series, though Kohli had always been present as a captain and as the glue to the Indian batting line-up.

The PCA IS Bindra Stadium last hosted an ODI match over a year ago and we cannot read too much into the past results, purely because the match starts at 11:30 AM IST and the side batting first are likely to have the conditions against them. The Mohali pitch has generally been good for batting and used to be one of the seamer-friendly pitches in India. India have won nine of the 14 One-Day Internationals they have played at this venue, while Sri Lanka have won two of the three ODIs they have played here, though both those victories have come against Pakistan and Bangladesh (the Lankan Lions have lost the only ODI played against India here). The weather forecast says that Wednesday will be largely cloudy and see the odd shower; the temperature is expected to be about 20 degree Celsius.

Recent form

IND: LWWLW (last five ODIs, from left to right)

2nd ODI: India vs Sri Lanka playing XI

Though we don’t know what will have happened in testing, seaming conditions, India weren’t helped by the lack of the experience of Virat Kohli and Kedar Jadhav in the middle order. And Rohit had said after the loss, that Rahane remains an opening batsman. In which case, India are unlikely to alter their batting line-up and playing XI. Needless to say, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik and Manish Pandey will never have better opportunities of sealing their places in the XI or in the squad.

Probable India playing 11 for the second ODI: 1 Rohit Sharma (c), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Shreyas Iyer, 4 Dinesh Karthik, 5 Manish Pandey, 6 MS Dhoni (wk), 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, and 11 Jasprit Bumrah

If not for an injury or a fitness issue, Sri Lanka are likely to be unchanged from the win in Dharamsala as well.

Likely Sri Lanka playing XI for the 2nd ODI: 1 Thisara Perera (c), 2 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 3 Danushka Gunathilaka, 4 Lahiru Thirimanne, 5 Upul Tharanga, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Asela Gunaratne, 8 Akila Dananjaya, 9 Nuwan Pradeep, 10 Sachith Pathirana, and 11 Suranga Lakmal

Match prediction

As aforementioned, the toss holds the key and the captain who wins the toss is likely to opt to bowl first. The conditions might not be as testing in Mohali, where the pitch has slowed down as well over the years. So, another batting capitulation is unlikely for either side. As for the match itself, Sri Lanka’s bowling shone in Dharamsala and Lakmal has been incisive pretty much throughout this tour. And India have a good bowling attack as well. So, the batting line-up that fares better may well win the second ODI for its team.

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