Touted as the easier of the two groups in the 2017 Champions Trophy, India have been slotted in Group B alongside Pakistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa. However, when the action gets underway, perceptions won’t matter as all eight teams in the tournament are capable of holding their own. Perhaps, some more so than others.
After squaring up against arch-rivals Pakistan, Virat Kohli’s troops will take on the Lankans at The Oval on June 8th. The first couple of matches should go a long way in determining their fortunes in the competition. Considering the brevity as well as the intensity of the event, there cannot be any margin for error.
Here are five reasons why India need to be wary of Sri Lanka ahead of their Champions Trophy clash.
#5 Sri Lanka have nothing to lose
From the previous 10 ODIs between the two teams, India have won eight matches. Since the last few years, Sri Lanka have driven themselves into a gruelling transition phase. Still grappling with the void left by the retirements of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, their recent performances leave a lot to be desired. And not many fancy their chances in what is shaping up to be a cut-throat tournament.
On the positive side of things, their current situation means that they can express themselves freely without the additional burden of pressure and expectations. More often than not, Sri Lanka are renowned for lifting their game in big events. Rallying the spirit of the Emerald Isle, the invulnerable tag of underdogs could help them play their natural game.