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Preview – 1st Test: India v Sri Lanka

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Last Updated on 7 years by Charbel Coorey

Just over two months ago, India inflicted a 9-0 thrashing of Sri Lanka on their own soil. It was like a team of 25 year olds playing a team of players aged 13. Sri Lanka didn’t stand a chance.

Will there be a repeat?

After engaging in successful limited overs series against Australia and New Zealand, India shift their focus to Test cricket, and will be looking to maintain its no.1 ranking ahead of a huge tour of South Africa. The question beckons for India – will they have one eye on that tour, or will their focus be 100% on Sri Lanka?

Despite the risk of complacency and lack of focus, India look quite settled ahead of this series, welcoming back a host of stars. Virat Kohli will especially be wanting good things from his seam bowlers on what seems a lively Eden Gardens track, with the South Africa tour coming up.

However, if India’s focus is not 100% on this series, this represents a real opportunity for Sri Lanka. The Lions are talking about an improved culture thanks to the learnings of arguably their worst home performance ever v India, as well as a surprise 2-0 win in the UAE over Pakistan recently.

Sri Lanka achieved a fantastic 2-0 series win over Pakistan recently.

Sri Lanka will be boosted by the return of Angelo Mathews, especially considering how inexperienced their squad is. To stand any sort of chance, they desperately need their senior players to step up. Nobody (except India fans) wants to see Sri Lanka 4/40 with inexperienced players trying to dig their team out of a hole.

Key to an India win

Let’s face it. This series is a mismatch on paper, especially on Indian soil. Anything other than an India series win will be a massive shock – the cricketing world equivalent of Trump winning the US election or the Brexit vote.
India’s major threat is their own complacency. Seeing that Sri Lanka have struggled in 2017, including a 9-0 thrashing at the hands of India recently, it can be easy for India to think they only have to show up to win.

India thrashed Sri Lanka on their own soil

Under Virat Kohli though, you expect India to be 100% focused on every detail, with a desire for every key batsman to get good time in the middle, and their bowlers maintaining excellent lines and lengths.

Key to a Sri Lanka win

The return of Angelo Mathews is a big boost for Sri Lanka, as they need runs on the board if they are to challenge India. 
The likes of Dimuth Karunaratne and Dinesh Chandimal have been in excellent form in Test cricket, and need to continue their form and make significant contributions. With the ball, Sri Lanka will be led by the legendary Rangana Herath, and with runs on the board, they could potentially cause India a few headaches.

Dimuth Karunaratne has had a solid 2017 in Test cricket

However, the loss of form of Kusal Mendis, who will not be involved in the series, is a big blow. Even more reason for the senior players to stand up.

Predicted teams:

The big question for India is who will open the batting? Personally, I feel Shikhar Dhawan deserves the spot after a huge series in Sri Lanka. Also, despite the Eden Garden surface looking green, I think both Jadeja and Ashwin will play.
India: 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 KL Rahul, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, 6 Ravichandran Ashwin, 7 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 8 Ravindra Jadeja, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Mohammad Shami, 11 Umesh Yadav
For Sri Lanka, who replaces Mendis? Dhananjaya de Silva has plenty of talent, and should be given a chance at no. 3.
Sri Lanka: 1 Dimuth Karunaratne, 2 Sadeera Samarawickrama, 3 Dhananjaya de Silva 4 Dinesh Chandimal (c), 5 Angelo Mathews, 6 Lahiru Thirimanne, 7 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 8 Dulruwan Perera, 9 Suranga Lakmal, 10 Rangana Herath, 11 Lahiru Gamage

Stats & Facts:

  • Sri Lanka have never won a Test in India. Out of 10 losses, eight have come by an innings, which is the most out of any Test nation visiting India.
  • India recently thrashed Sri Lanka 3-0 in the Test series, and two victories came by an innings.
  • India have won four Tests in a row, and five of their last six. 
  • Dimuth Karunaratne is just 60 runs away from reaching 1,000 Test runs for the year. He has scored 940 runs at an average of 47.00.
  • Out of the top 25 Test run scorers in 2017, Cheteshwar Pujara has the best average (851 runs at 70.91)
  • Sri Lanka have lost 12 ODIs in a row, but have won their last two Tests. In the process, they became the first team to ever beat Pakistan in a Test series in the UAE since 2009.
  • Rangana Herath averages 45.96 v India in Tests. Against all other nations, he has taken 373 wickets at an average of 26.26.
  • Ravichandran Ashwin is just 8 wickets away from 300 Test wickets. He is on track to becoming the fastest ever to the mark. 
  • Shikhar Dhawan in the Test tour of Sri Lanka recently: 358 runs in 4 innings at an average of 89.50.
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Prediction:

With some rain expected, there is a possibility we won’t get a result. However, if the weather holds, anything other than an India win will be a surprise.
Rain permitting, I expect to see Ravi Ashwin pick up the 8 wickets required to reach 300 Test wickets. India will win comfortably as their batting and bowling is superior to Sri Lanka’s. 
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Charbel Coorey
Charbel Cooreyhttps://cricblog.net
Charbel is the owner & founder of cricblog.net, based in Sydney, Australia. He started the website to fulfill his love for the game of cricket. Charbel has been featured on other publications including OP India, Times of India, and The Roar, among others. He is also a keen fantasy sports player. Charbel has also had the privilege of interviewing cricketers on the CricBlog TV YouTube channel, including James Neesham, Rassie van der Dussen, Andrew Tye, Shreyas Gopal, Jaydev Unadkat and Saurabh Netravalkar: https://www.youtube.com/@cricblogtv For any story tips or questions, you can contact Charbel at charbelcoorey@cricblog.net.

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