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Let’s get the obvious out of the way – India start as favourites to win the Nidahas Trophy, even though they field a second string side – one without their star batsman and regular skipper Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Kuldeep Yadav. On the face of it, the powerhouses of the unit are missing but with the likes of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the order, the No.3 ranked T20I machinery are unlikely to quiver. Cricket Betting Tips While the visitors made the voluntary choice of resting the top guns, Sri Lanka’s is a forced one, with their star all-rounder and captain Angelo Mathews grappling with an injury again. Free Cricket Betting Tips The fragility of Mathews’s body has been synonymous with the recent downfall of the team too, and as the veteran patiently – desperately at times, looks to put his body together, Sri Lanka’s wait to be on the right track continues.
On the form front, India find themselves in the pink of health, pushed very little by South Africa last month with the visitors winning the ODI leg 5-1 and the T20I series 2-1. Sri Lanka, too, have for now gathered themselves better and the wins in Bangladesh – across the tri-nation ODI series, and bilateral Tests and T20I series in Bangladesh – will give them solace, and why not? Having endured their worst year in cricket, copping 40 losses across all forms in a single calendar year – the most for any team, Sri Lanka learnt it the hard way that winning indeed is a good habit – something they have just realised. Just as any complacency could risk kicking in given the familiar environs of home – highly doubtful, they would not have forgotten their recent travails against India, with a tourwash at home and series losses across forms when they had toured India after that.
While the hosts can rejoice the absence of the Kohlis, Bumrahs, Pandyas, etc, they will do well to remind themselves that it was not just Kohli who had caused them ample damage in the T20I series in December. Cricket Tips Free KL Rahul returns to the fold against Sri Lanka again having scored 61 and 89 against them in December last year. The series will serve as an immense opportunity for the newbies – Washington Sundar, Deepak Hooda, Mohammed Siraj, Vijay Shankar and Rishabh Pant, and their intensity at the nets facility of the R. Premadasa Stadium on Monday (March 5), established their keenness further.
While India hit the nets at full tilt despite the unrelenting humidity of Colombo, the hosts didn’t push themselves much. However, there would be no dearth of competition from them with the returning Kusal Perera adding meat to their composition even though they chose to drop Niroshan Dickwella following his indifferent form. Free Cricket Betting Tips Whether or not Kusal Mendis will continue to open still remains under wraps. His recent twin fifties in Bangladesh though make him one of the forces to reckon with.
What to expect: The humidity levels are only going to get worse as it shoots up to 79 percent on match day with the skies being partly cloudy. Match Betting Tips Although, all games are scheduled to be played under lights, the stickiness in the weather will challenge the players in the middle.
The Indian contingent didn’t leave any stone unturned in the practice sessions on the match day. While Rohit, Dhawan and Rahul took the first hit in the three nets facility in the stadium complex, Suresh Raina was the next to knock a few. Jsk Cricket Betting Tips With doubts lingering over the bowling makeup, Vijay Shankar bowling at full threshold for close to an hour makes for a case to study. Jaydev Unadkat and Axar Patel were the usual suspects, with the latter certain to start having spent his time on the sidelines with wristspinners having taken precedence earlier. Washington Sundar too had a long toil, hinting at India’s intentions of keeping themselves spin-heavy.
Probable XI: Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Suresh Raina, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Vijay Shankar/Washington Sundar, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jaydev Unadkat
With Dickwella ignored for the series, Kusal Perera is set to take over the wicketkeeping duties on Tuesday. Free Cricket Tips Apart from that, the hosts might not look to tinker much with their composition, especially after the head coach Chandika Hathurusingha touched upon on the importance of ‘starting well’.
Probable XI: Upul Tharanga, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, Dinesh Chandimal (c), Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Jeevan Mendis, Akila Dananjaya, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep
What they said:
“If you go by the ratings, India is the No. 1 [No.3] team, so they always start ahead of the other teams. Whoever comes from India is a very strong team. Cricket Betting Tips We have to start well because we haven’t been doing well at home. With Bangladesh – because of the last series – we probably have a little edge over them mentally. But still, India is the No. 1 [No.3] team.” – Chandika Hathurusingha, Sri Lanka head coach
“As a captain or coach, you got to give them (wristspinners) confidence, it is important they understand their strength and weaknesses, it is important to exploit the strength lot more.” – Rohit Sharma, India captain.
India (From): Rohit Sharma(c), Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Suresh Raina, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik(w), Washington Sundar, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jaydev Unadkat, Rishabh Pant, Vijay Shankar, Mohammed Siraj, Deepak Hooda
Sri Lanka (From): Upul Tharanga, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal(w/c), Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Jeevan Mendis, Akila Dananjaya, Suranga Lakmal, Danushka Gunathilaka, Nuwan Pradeep, Amila Aponso, Isuru Udana, Dushmantha Chameera