Advantage India ahead of the third Test against Sri Lanka
India has all the momentum heading into the third Test at the SSC having dominated major parts of the two Test matches and with Sangakkara's retirement and Ashwin's fine form, the hosts will find the going tough.
The build up to the ongoing Test series between Sri Lanka and India focussed completely on the retirement of the great Kumar Sangakkara. There were tributes for him from all parts of the cricket world – people called him the best ever from Sri Lanka, compared him to Sir Don Bradman and lots more. He walked in every time with standing ovations from the crowd and the players giving him the guard of honour. Now that he has hung his boots, there will be no more of all this.
Amongst all the festivity, this series has showcased some intense cricket with both sides winning a Test apiece. While the match at The Galle saw an amazing comeback by Sri Lanka, the second Test at the P Sara Oval saw a complete dominance from India. As expected when two sub-continental sides play each other, spin bowling has dominated with first Rangana Herath and then Ravichandran Ashwin clinching victories for their teams.
Going by where the series stands at the moment, India seems to have the edge over the hosts. Both the Indian batsmen and spinners have done better than their Sri Lankan counterparts with as many as four of them scoring a century compared to two from the host nation while the Indian spinners have bagged 30 wickets whereas 23 went to Sri Lanka’s.
Add to it Sangakkara’s absence. Even though he did not contribute much in either of the two Tests, his sheer presence was intimidating enough. The visitors knew how important his wicket was and it was evident from the way they celebrated each time Ashwin accounted for his wicket.
The off-spinner is bowling as well as he has ever bowled in his career making life difficult for the batsmen, especially the left-handers. Ashwin himself claimed that he had bowled the best spell of his career during the second Test and will be eager to add to the 17 wickets he has picked up so far in the series
The only concern that India has heading into the game are the injuries to Vijay and Saha. With Pujara raring to go for quite a while, he will be looking to grab the opportunity with a big innings. After Saha got injured, KL Rahul wore the gloves and did a superb job claiming a diving catch to dismiss Mathews. Now it will be interesting to see if India continues with Rahul behind the stumps or whether they give Naman Ojha a chance.
The momentum is clearly with India having dominated the most part of the two Test matches. The batsmen have clicked at the right moments except for one innings while the bowlers have taken 20 wickets on both occasions and with Virat getting his first win as Test Captain, he will be all pumped up and looking to win the match and the series at the SSC.