West Indies tri-series 2013: Match 6 - India vs. Sri Lanka Preview
India and Sri Lanka have played against each other twice in last three weeks. If rain permits, and God forbid, if India manage to defeat Sri Lanka, we will witness a fourth India vs Sri Lanka fixture, spread over two tournaments and 7000kms in a span of just 21 days on Thursday.
In their more certain fixture today, those who’re still paying any attention to the proceedings of the series, will need to remember some permutations and combinations. After leading the table earlier, West Indies’ chances hinge on the result of this match, after two consecutive losses in the series.
The hosts will be cheering for Sri Lanka today as the Island nation’s victory over the 2013 Champions Trophy winners will ensure Windies’ participation in the final. An India vs. West Indies final though looks highly improbably as for Lanka to get knocked out, India will need to defeat them by a margin of around 210 runs; an unlikely scenario considering Sri Lanka’s form.
Now, for India to qualify, they need a win. India’s run-rate in the table after three matches is currently -0.524 while West Indies have -0.383 from four matches.
Defending any total by a margin of few runs will be enough to propel them into final. While chasing, any total below 321, if chased even off the last ball, will do the trick for them. A larger target would have to be achieved with a few deliveries spared though.
The permutations and combinations bring to memory the proceedings of last year, when led by Virat Kohli‘s belligerent 133*, India chased down 320 before the cut-off of 40 overs, but Sri Lanka’s win over an otherwise dominant Australia put an end to their reignited hopes.
Less than a month later, India relied on the result of another match involving Sri Lanka. This time, they had to defeat Bangladesh to ensure India’s qualification in the final of the Asia Cup. But India were kicked out again when Bangladesh scripted an upset and defeated Sri Lanka.
Thankfully for India, their hopes of qualification will be in their hands today. A victory with a bonus point would put them at the top of the table, but even a close win would see India through to the final. West Indies would be firmly behind Sri Lanka while the current table toppers would simply want to avoid taking a wrong step before the final.
Players in focus:
Virat Kohli: The Indian skipper was at his dominating best against West Indies in the last match and with a prospect of facing his favourite opponents in the last two matches in his first series as a captain, he couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to lead his side to victory. As a skipper, the flaring up of emotions on the field in the last match will add an extra burden on his shoulders to keep the team chemistry intact.
Angelo Mathews: Sri Lanka too would look up to their captain for inspiration in this fixture. Mathews has performed consistently in this series with the bat and has also drilled in his importance as an all-rounder in the side by picking a four-wicket haul against West Indies. His late onslaught against India helped Sri Lanka achieve a daunting total and his wicket will surely be crucial for India.
Playing XI (probable):
India wouldn’t want to tinker with their combination, and the idea of experimenting with Shami Ahmed seems to have been put to rest now.
The problem for Sri Lanka here would be their schedule as this would be the third day on the trot when they will be playing. In case they aren’t knocked out, they will have to play the final with only a single day’s rest. Whether they tinker with their winning combination though still remains to be seen.
Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene, Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews (c), Lahiru Thirimanne, Jeevan Mendis, Dilhara Lokuhettige, Lasith Malinga, Sachithra Senanayake, Shaminda Eranga
Venue: Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain, Trinidad.
Start time: 7:00 PM IST (1:30 PM GMT).