India fight to keep one-day series alive

MOHALI – India and Sri Lanka travel to Mohali for the second One-Day International with the visiting side 1-0 up. This means when the teams face each other in the second game on Tuesday (December 13), the home side must win to keep the three-match series alive.

Although unbeaten in its seven previous bilateral ODI series, India found itself in a similar situation in the last series too. It was down 0-1 against New Zealand at home in October before winning the two remaining matches.

In the first game in Dharamsala, India stuck with its philosophy that Ajinkya Rahane was in the squad as a reserve opener and handed Shreyas Iyer a debut in conditions loaded heavily in favour of the faster bowlers. But once Rohit Sharma, standing in as captain for Virat Kohli, and Shikhar Dhawan failed to provide a decent start, the fragile middle order stood exposed.

Led by Suranga Lakmal, the Sri Lankan pacers put on a brilliant exhibition of seam bowling to skittle India for 112. Barring Mahendra Singh Dhoni, no other batsman had any answer to the moving ball. Sri Lanka made short work of the small target to win by seven wickets.

Apart from batsmen applying themselves in the middle, the other aspect India will look to improve is controlling the extras. One of the two no-balls bowled by Jasprit Bumrah cost India Upul Tharanga’s wicket. To add insult to injury, the free-hit delivery on both occasions went for fours. Bumrah has been guilty in the past of making the same mistake, most notably during the ICC Champions Trophy final in June when Fakhar Zaman got a reprieve before scoring a match-winning century. Not just this, India also conceded ten runs in wides in its 20.4 overs with the ball. With Kedar Jadhav unavailable through injury, it is unlikely that India will tinker with its playing XI in a do-or-die game, though there could be a debut for Washington Sundar, the young Tamil Nadu allrounder. Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, who didn’t get a chance to bowl in Dharamsala, will be itching to make an impact.

Sri Lanka seems to be getting closer and closer to a formula it thinks will be successful in the future, according to Nic Pothas, the interim coach for whom this will be the last series with the national team. The side gave a glimpse of that formula in the first game. Angelo Mathews came in at No. 4, one slot ahead of his usual position, whereas Niroshan Dickwella continued to bat at No. 5. That Mathews has started to bowl again provided much-needed balance to the side.

The Mohali surface, once considered the fastest in the country, has slowed down considerably over the years and has produced quite a few high-scoring games of late. The last time India played an ODI here, against New Zealand in October 2016, Kohli starred with an unbeaten 154 as his team chased down a 286-run target with seven wickets in hand.

India: Rohit Sharma (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddarth Kaul, Washington Sundar.

Sri Lanka: Thisara Perera (capt), Upul Tharanga, Danushka Gunathilaka, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Sadeera Samarawickrama, Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews, Asela Gunaratne, Chathuranga de Silva, Sachith Pathirana, Akila Dananjaya, Dushmantha Chameera, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Perera.

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