Tri-series final preview: Sri Lanka vs India
India’s fortunes in this tri-series have swung from one end to the other: It started with a 200-run loss to a second string New Zealand and after a win famous for the no-ball incident, there was a horrifying loss again before another Sehwag blitzkrieg took India to the finals of the tournament. On the face of it, it is impossible to gauge and predict India’s performance in the finals – it can well be another embarrassing display when India and Sri Lanka lock horns (again?) in the finals in Dambulla on Saturday.
On the other hand, Sri Lanka has clearly been the best team of the tri series so far. Apart from the hiccup in the third one-dayer, they have proved to be mentally the toughest among the three teams and their knowledge of the local weather and pitch conditions have also helped their cause. Yet this Sri Lankan team under Kumar Sangakkara has positivism to it, a message that reverberates they mean business.
The no-ball incident that created an uproar only made the hosts stronger, and they came back to humiliate India by inflicting the worst defeat on them in terms of balls remaining.
Their top batsmen Upul Tharanga, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, Samaraweera and Jayawardene have all fired, and hence Sri Lanka does not look like a team that can capitulate the way India has done a couple of times now. Also, there is a feeling Sri Lanka has a successful structure to its batting that stands them in good stead.
And apart from Virender Sehwag, there has been no notable performer with the bat for India. A lot of questions have been raised with regards to the awful batting by youngsters as Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, but the ‘seniors’ MS Dhoni and even Sehwag have defended their team-mates. Yet, even they would acknowledge that a total of 94 runs amongst these batsmen in all the league matches so far is a cause of worry. What if Sehwag chooses not to fire on Saturday?
All bowlers have performed in patches, but India’s strength still remains batting.
Sri Lankan bowlers headed by Lasith Malinga have made a good impression so far, the fifth one-dayer between the two sides proving a field day for a certain Thissira Pereira. They will hope they have an answer for Sehwag this time, a ploy that is better than a desperate tactic to avoid a century by the batter.
And India will hope for a more consistent effort. Maybe things change, who knows? After all, it is another final.
India (likely XI): Dinesh Karthik, Virender Sehwag, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (captain), Ravindra Jadeja, Praveen Kumar, Pragyan Ojha, Ashish Nehra, Ishant Sharma
Sri Lanka (likely XI): Upul Tharanga, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara (captain), Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera, Angelo Matthews, Chamara Kapugedara, Nuwan Kulasekara, Thissira Pereira, Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando