Hurt and embarrassed, India seek revenge in Mohali
By Bharat Sharma
Mohali, Dec 12 (PTI) Handed an embarrassing defeat in the inaugural ODI, a wounded India would look to get even against an inspired Sri Lanka in a do-or-die second match, here tomorrow.
The loss not only hurt but was also an eye-opener for a team that has been dominant all throughout the long home season.
Proving that the opening day surrender to Sri Lanka pacers at the Eden Gardens was no aberration, the Indian batting stood exposed once again against the moving ball.
Chandigarh won't be as cold as Dharamsala but the pacers should come into play considering it is another 11:30 am start to the day-night affair.
In that case, it will be another test for the Indian batsmen if the home team happens to bat first in a must-win contest.
Barring old war-horse MS Dhoni, the highly-rated batsmen seemed like sitting ducks every time Suranga Lakmal pitched the ball up in the off-stump corridor.
After the experienced Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan fell early, it was an ideal opportunity for the likes of Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik and Manish Pandey to weather the initial storm and make a big score.
However, they all came a cropper and if it was not for Dhoni's fighting 65, India could well be out for their lowest ever total.
If it was one person, who would be gutted looking at his teams' performance, it would be captain Virat Kohli, who opted out of the series to get married to Bollywood actor Anushka Sharma in Italy.
Rohit, leading the side in Kohli's absence, was not amused either in his first ODI as captain. Though, he promised that the team will learn from Dharamsala debacle and bounce back in the remaining two games.
"It is important to thrive in these conditions and come out good. It is an eye opener for all of us," Rohit had said after the seven-wicket loss.
He is unlikely to tinker with the playing eleven but there is a possibility that Ajinkya Rahane is picked to shore up the inexperienced batting, especially the middle order.
Rahane sat out of the opening game as the team management only sees him as the back-up opener in the presence of Sharma and Dhawan.
However, he has batted in the middle-order in a few games out of the 84 ODIs he has played.
In the bowling department, the worry for India will be the performance of Hardik Pandya, who again leaked runs as the hosts tried to defend a paltry 112.
He is picked as the bowling all-rounder for the South Africa Test series and needs to be at the top of his game ahead of the crucial tour starting next month.
Considering Sri Lanka cantered to victory in 20.4 overs, spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav did not come on to bowl. They would be itching to get back into action after a month's gap.
While India find themselves in an unusual situation at home, Sri Lanka have a golden opportunity to seal the series after ending a 12-match losing streak with a thumping win in Dharamsala.
New Zealand too were on the cusp of history last month but faltered after winning the series opener as India bounced back to win the next two games.
The win must have done a world of good to the islanders' confidence after the beating they have taken at the hands of India at home and away this season.
Lakmal was lethal again on a helping pitch while Angelo Mathews too made a promising return with the ball.
Also effective on a seaming surface was pacer Nuwan Pradeep. The batting too clicked and completed the modest chase rather comfortably.
As put by Rohit after the match, another 70-80 runs and it could have been a different story with the ball still moving in the evening.
Teams: India: Rohit Sharma (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Washington Sundar, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddarth Kaul.
Sri Lanka: Thisara Perera (captain), Upul Tharanga, Danushka Gunathilaka, Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews, Asela Gunaratne, Niroshan Dickwella, Chaturanga de Silva, Akila Dananjaya, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dushmantha Chameera, Sachith Pathirana, Kusal Perera.
Match starts at 11:30 am