R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo
March 12, Monday; 19:00 IST
Live on DSport
The main picture
The Nidahas Trophy 2018 is wonderfully poised at the end of the first round of matches, with all three teams winning one and losing one. More importantly, the quality of cricket has been very good and contrary to expectations before the start of this tournament, we have to say that the teams are separated by little at this moment.
India and Sri Lanka face off on Monday (March 12) in a pivotal match which could essentially decide one finalist. A Sri Lankan win will seal their spot in the final, given that they have a vastly better net run rate (+0.297) than India’s (-0.040) and Bangladesh’s (-0.231), but an Indian win too, will pretty much ensure their place in the final with one match left to play.
Sri Lanka’s batting, which had been a major letdown for the whole of last year and particularly in limited-overs cricket, has looked formidable and the team management will want the Kusal Perera and Kusal Mendis to harness the good touch they are in. With the Premadasa Stadium pitch facilitating stroke play, the bowlers need a healthy cushion of runs while bowling second. So, even though the onus is usually on the bowlers to step up when the pitch is batsmen-friendly, the batting line-up here has to help out the bowlers by putting up a total around 200, at least.
Speaking along which lines, Dinesh Chandimal and co. will be disappointed by their failure to defend 214 against Bangladesh. The Sri Lankan bowlers wilted under the pressure of defending a score and the inability to perform under pressure does not bode well for the host ahead of the test against a seemingly formidable Indian batting line-up.
India have one victory to their name and have an equal chance of reaching the final as the other two teams, but they are a much better side than the performances in the first two matches suggested. Shikhar Dhawan and Manish Pandey have been the sole bright spots in the batting line-up, while the bowling attack has only been par for the course. From a neutral’s viewpoint, though, India not playing to potential is not bad for this tournament and makes for edge-of-the-seat viewing.
Pitch conditions and weather forecast
The R Premadasa Stadium pitch has played to its reputation of being a good batting surface. Importantly, it has shown no signs yet of slowing down. In all three matches so far, the team chasing have won and that too chasing considerably big totals in 66.66 per cent of the matches. You can expect this pitch to remain good for batting and Rohit Sharma and his counterpart are likely to opt to field first if they win the toss. The weather forecast is for a thunderstorm in the afternoon, but the evening is expected to be clear and pleasant with a temperature of 25 degree Celsius.
SL: LWWWL (last five completed T20Is, from left to right)
Sri Lanka vs India playing XI
The Sri Lankan team management was unlikely to tinker with their playing 11, but have been forced to with the two-match suspension to captain Dinesh Chandimal. Thisara Perera is likely to lead the team, with Isuru Udana potentially replacing him in the XI.
Probable SL playing XI vs India: 1 Thisara Perera (c), 2 Danushka Gunathilaka, 3 Kusal Mendis, 4 Kusal Perera (wk), 5 Upul Tharanga, 6 Jeevan Mendis, 7 Dasun Shanaka, 8 Akila Dananjaya, 9 Nuwan Pradeep, 10 Dushmantha Chameera, 11 Isuru Udana
Rishabh Pant got out playing an unnecessary shot against Bangladesh and may lose his place in the Indian playing 11. Axar Patel may replace this Delhi wicketkeeper.
Probable India playing 11 vs Sri Lanka: 1 Rohit Sharma (C), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 Manish Pandey, 5 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 6 Vijay Shankar, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Shardul Thakur, 9 Jaydev Unadkat, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Washington Sundar
You can expect another close match, with the toss holding the key once again. With the pitch being excellent for batting, the bowling attack which fares better will give its team the edge.