India eye series win in Vizag fortress

Visakhapatnam – After a disappointing show with the bat in Dharamsala, India, riding on a brilliant unbeaten 208 by Rohit Sharma, levelled the three-match One-Day International series against Sri Lanka in Mohali. The series will be up for grabs when the teams meet for a final showdown at the Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium on Sunday.

After the first ODI, which Sri Lanka won by seven wickets, Nic Pothas, its interim coach, had said that the side has cracked the formula to play ODI cricket. But the formula didn’t quite work for it in Mohali.

Danushka Gunathilaka once again failed to make an impact, while Lahiru Thirimanne, after getting out for a duck in the first match, was bowled for 21 while attempting a switch-hit. With someone like Kusal Perera sitting out, Sri Lanka may want to reconsider its strategy. The good news for it is that Angelo Mathews, who looked in discomfort during his fighting 111 not out in Mohali, has been declared fit and attended the full training session on Friday.

In case the visitor needs some motivation after the 141-run drubbing, this will be the farewell game for Pothas with the Sri Lankan side. A win on Sunday will not only be a perfect parting gift, it will also give Sri Lanka its first bilateral series win in India.

However, that’s easier said than done. India has been undefeated in its last seven bilateral ODI series and will be determined to extend that streak.

After stumbling in the first match, India bossed its way to victory in the next game. Not only did Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan provide yet another 100-plus opening stand, Shreyas Iyer too made the most of the conditions to shake off the blues with a 70-ball 88.

Moreover, India has a formidable record in Visakhapatnam, having won five out of six completed ODIs there, while one match was abandoned. The last time India played here, in October 2016, Rohit scored 70, while Amit Mishra took 5 for 18 as they beat New Zealand by 190 runs in what was also a series decider.

The ground is also special to MS Dhoni, who scored his first big score in ODI cricket – a 123-ball 148 against Pakistan in 2005 – there.

Meanwhile, India has remained firm on its stand of considering Ajinkya Rahane as the third opener and handed young Washington Sundar his ODI cap in the second game to beef up the batting. The 18-year-old did not get a chance to bat, and conceded 65 off his ten overs for one wicket.

After having Sri Lanka seven down by the 34th over in Mohali, India would have hoped to wrap up the game quickly. Instead, it could manage only one more wicket in the next 16 overs. Will the team management have this in mind while selecting the playing XI for the third ODI and bring back Kuldeep Yadav or will they stick with Washington?

The forecast for Sunday is clear with the temperature hovering in the 20s. The pitch in Visakhapatnam typically favours batsmen, which means we could be in for another high-scoring game.

After his Mohali knock, Rohit had said, “After you get a hundred, why not get another? Why not just keep batting?” Sri Lanka will hope he doesn’t live up to his words on Sunday because then the game could get away from them quite quickly.

TEAMS (FROM):

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.

 match starts at 1:00 pm

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