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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

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Match Preview – India vs Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka in India 2022/23, 1st ODI

Big Picture: India Overwhelming Favorites

A few years ago Sri Lanka was really pathetic in the ODI format but look they are a bit better now. Or at least this is what we hope. In the last year they have won six of their 10 completed ODIs. Full disclosure, six of those games were against Zimbabwe and Afghanistan. But then there was also a glorious home series victory over Australia. Overall, they continue as a team on an upward trajectory.

The problem is that India is, of course, monsters at home. Since the start of 2020, they have won nine of their 12 completed ODIs in the country (and how strange it is that India have only played 12 ODIs at home in three years when there was a time when they would have won against Sri Lanka have played 12.)

And let’s not talk about how the teams are on paper. Because on paper India tends to crush Sri Lanka every time now. Fortunately, the on-field rivalry hasn’t been so one-sided, at least in the T20Is.

But we are now switching to ODI mode, the World Cup in India at the end of this year on everyone’s horizon. Sri Lanka has serious personnel research to do before then. Who supports the (currently injured) Dushmantha Chameera as a fast bowling player? Is the talented but limitless (in this format) Dilshan Madushanka the bowler they will be watching? What about hit-the-deck seam seller Kasun Rajitha? Or will they go back to faster Lahiru Kumara, who failed to impress in 15 ODIs but has recently shown signs of improvement with the cue ball?

And can they get their spin attack in order? Wanindu Hasaranga is a world-renowned T20 leg spinner, but his ODI record is modest by comparison. Maheesh Theekshana’s is only slightly better. They are deservedly Sri Lanka’s top picks, but have some work to do in this format.

India has so much less to work out and less to prove. Their problems are many. Suryakumar Yadav, who played a glowing T20I innings in recent days, may not be missing from this top ranking. If he does play, Shreyas Iyer will probably have to give way.

On the fast-bowling front, Arshdeep Singh and Umran Malik may be battling for the same spot. If any of them were Sri Lanka players, no doubt they would be playing.

India beat Sri Lanka on paper every time. That’s how it often went. But Sri Lanka has also had their way of defying their stats and record.

Form guide

(completed matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka WLLWW

In the spotlight: Is there another Kohli masterclass coming up?

Virat Kohli‘s record against Sri Lanka is terrifying. In 46 innings against this opposition, he has 2220 runs – second to his tally against the West Indies, and only marginally. He has eight hundred and eleven fifty against them, and despite many of these matches coming on slow Sri Lankan circuits, he has a 91 strike rate. Lanka fear more than Kohli. He is also fresh off an ODI century, having hit 113 against Bangladesh in December.

There can now be little doubt that Sri Lanka’s white-ball fortunes have turned a corner since then Dasun Shanaka became captain. Usually the turnaround has come in the T20 format (hello, Asia Cup). But there also seems to be some semblance of a revival in ODIs. The problem for Shanaka is that he has been a poor ODI player so far, averaging less than 25 with the bat, even with a healthy batting percentage of 94, often moving towards the dead end of an innings. He is currently in spectacular form and will be looking to take that to the ODIs.

Location and conditions

In the one played ODI at Guwahati, in 2018, West Indies made 322 for 8, then India easily chased it down, in the 43rd over. No rain is expected to interrupt this game.

Team news: Iyer or SKY in the XI?

Rohit said in the pre-match press that Shubman Gill would start ahead of Ishan Kishan despite Kishan scoring a double hundred in his last ODI. That means KL Rahul is likely to take a place in the XI as the wicket-keeper. Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav may also be involved in a fight. Same with Arshdeep Singh and Umran Malik.

India XI (possibly): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt.), 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 KL Rahul (wk) 5 Shreyas Iyer, 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Yuzvendra Chahal/Kuldeep Yadav, 9 Mohammed Siraj, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Arshdeep Singh/Umran Malik

Sri Lanka have some decisions to make in terms of bowling, but their top order and spin attack should be fairly settled.

Sri Lanka (possibly): 1 Kusal Mendis (wk), 2 Pathum Nissanka, 3 Avishka Fernando, 4 Dhananjaya de Silva, 5 Charith Asalanka, 6 Dasun Shanaka, 7 Wanindu Hasaranga, 8 Chamika Karunaratne, 9 Maheesh Theekshana, 10 Kasun Rajitha, 11 Dilshan Madushanka/Lahiru Kumara

  • Out of 13 completed ODIs since 2015, India has won 10 and Sri Lanka 3. However, only three of those matches have been in India, of which India won two.
  • Kohli’s tally of 19 50-plus scores against Sri Lanka is second only to his tally against the West Indies against whom he has 20 such scores.
  • While Shanaka’s T20I record in India is outstanding, with 378 runs at a strike rate of 149, he has never played an ODI in the country.
  • Quotes

    “It’s good that we will play nine ODIs at home [before the World Cup]. It’s a good opportunity for us to figure out what we want to do at the World Cup. In these nine games we can try things out – what could be our best combination, and how we want to play, what we actually already have planned.”

    Indian captain Rohit Sharma

    Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf

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