Both India and Sri Lanka have one defeat and one victory in the tournament so far. The last time these teams met, Sri Lanka emerged victorious after they chased a target of 175 against a deflated Indian side. The home side then lost to Bangladesh who were overpowered by the Indians.
India have been pretty ordinary so far. Then again, this is what everyone said of Bangladesh before they chased down a score over 200. Can they replicate the same heroics, or will Sri Lanka defeat India for the second time this series?
Rohit Sharma(c), Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Suresh Raina, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Deepak Hooda, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Vijay Shankar, Shardul Thakur, Jaydev Unadkat, Mohammed Siraj, Rishabh Pant
Dinesh Chandimal(c), Upul Tharanga, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Dasun Shanaka, Kusal Perera, Jeevan Mendis, Suranga Lakmal, Isuru Udana, Akila Dananjaya, Amila Aponso, Nuwan Pradeep, Dushmantha Chameera, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera
Where the Teams Stand
India have perhaps never been this dependent on Shikhar Dhawan to score runs for them. Both the openers have carried over their form in South Africa to this series. Sharma cannot seem to figure out where the next run will come from whereas Dhawan has looked solid and dependable. However, the rest of the batting lineup is a minor mess. Rishabh Pant was elevated to number 3 against Bangladesh, a move which backfired spectacularly. The youngster has had two opportunities so far and has failed to impress. His scores read 7(8) and 23(23). Raina has been inconsistent as well, scoring either 1(3) or 28(27). Besides Dhawan, Pandey is the only batsman who has regularly been scoring. Karthik has had little to do in terms of batting. India need to consider drafting in KL Rahul in place of Pant and accelerate the scoring rate given the number of batsmen who have scored at run-a-ball in the last two matches.
Washington Sundar has easily been the best bowler for India so far. He has maintained a low economy while also bagging a couple of wickets. All the rest have been far too expensive in either or both games. Unadkat and Thakur’s economy soared to 12 against Sri Lanka, while Chahal crossed 9. Unadkat and Vijay were expensive against Bangladesh as well, with economies of 9.5 and 8 respectively. If the last two games are any indication, India seriously need to improve their bowling. Even fielding has been an issue, notably against Bangladesh. They dropped at least four catches over 20 overs, which is shameful for a side like India.
India have a good batting lineup, but it simply has to score at a rate higher than run-a-ball. Their bowling is the main chink in their armor, but the same is true for Sri Lanka too. Given the strength of all three teams in the batting department, and the equal lack of it in the bowling, every match of this tournament is destined to be determined based on who bats better.
Sri Lanka’s batting has been the most consistent of all three teams so far. They have scored 175 and 214 in the two games they have played. Kusal Perera has been in sublime form for his team, scoring half centuries in both games, scoring at above 150 overall. He has provided the impetus needed to attain big scores, taking pressure off his teammates by not just scoring, but scoring at a healthy rate. It will be interesting to see how Sri Lanka cope with him failing, which is bound to happen imminently. The rest of the batting order has collectively contributed in small parts, but when they are the ones who need to do the main scoring, Sri Lanka might end up struggling. They have batsmen capable of saving the day. Chandimal and Tharanga are both very reliable whereas Shanaka and Mendis can hit it as big as Perera. Thisara Perera can do that as well but only in a finishing capacity. For the sake of the team, Chandimal will hope Kusal Perera continues on his merry way.
No matter how much the batsmen score, the bowlers have proved that they will find a way to lose. The match against Bangladesh is proof of this where they failed to defend a mammoth 214. They even conceded 174 against This neutralizes the superiority of their batting, leaving their situation unfortunately precarious. The best case for both teams is to bowl first and attempt to chase down whatever the other manages. They definitely do not want to set a target again after what happened last time.
India win. On batting alone, Sri Lanka are the stronger team, but India have a better balance, which might just help them edge the home side.