Will India clinch ODI series agaist Sri Lanka?


Colombo : Ever since they were knocked out of the first round of the ICC World Cup last year in the Caribbean, India have progressed nicely in the shorter version of the game under new captain M.S. Dhoni and are on the brink of winning a series against Sri Lanka, the runners-up of the World Cup tournament.

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Under Dhoni, India won the inaugural ICC Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa last year and won the Commonwealth Bank tri-nation ODI competition in Australia that involved the World Champions and Sri Lanka.

A victory here for the tourists, without two of their star players Sachin Tendulkar and Viredner Sehwag, will be hailed and yet another close contest is expected at the R. Premadasa Stadium Tuesday.

After going down to the Sri Lankans in the first ODI by eight wickets in Dambulla, the tourists did well to bounce back and win the next two ODIs by three wickets and 33 runs respectively.

A win either in Tuesday’s or Friday’s day-nighter will give the Indians the series.

“We’ll take it game by game. We want to give 100 percent and play the first game well and if there are any mistakes there, we want to come back, rectify them and finish off the series in a winning note,” Dhoni told reporters in Colombo.

“We won thanks to a good team effort and that’s good to see. Not a single player had a bad game and hopefully that continues,” he added.

The Sri Lankans, meanwhile, rather belatedly, will bring in one of the regular openers to the side, pushing Kumar Sangakkara to his original number three slot.

Going by Sangakkara’s excellent form during the Asia Cup tournament, where he hit three successive hundreds opening the innings, the Sri Lankans let him partner Sanath Jayasuriya. But the wicketkeeper batsman has struggled against Zaheer Khan in this series.

In Sri Lanka, he managed 9,2 and 19 runs in three innings and after intense criticism that too much was at stake for the hosts with two of their best players opening the innings, they are likely to recall Malinda Warnapura to face the new ball.

Warnapura had a good run in the Test series and while he’ll open batting, Sangakkara will move to number three and struggling middle order batsman Chamara Silva will be pushed out of the side.

“We know Kumar is a good enough player at any position, but we’ll probably have to do a rethink,” Sri Lanka’s captain Mahela Jayawardene said with the series at stake.

That will be the only change the Sri Lankans will make while India will go with the same combination that won them the third ODI.

The tourists have been happy to play just four bowlers as they opt for a seven batsmen strategy and Jayawardene said his side failed to cash in from the weak link in the Indian side during Sunday’s game.

“We know they had only four bowlers. But when you lose four wickets up front, there’s nothing much you can do. We failed to make use of that slot where their fifth bowler would have come in,” he added.

Sri Lanka squad: Mahela Jayawardene (Captain), Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara, Chamara Kapugedara, Chamara Silva, Tillekeratne Dilshan, Chaminda Vaas, Nuwan Kulasekara, Thilan Tushara Mirando, Ajantha Mendis, Muttiah Muralitharan, Dilhara Fernando, Malinda Warnapura, Jehan Mubarak and Mahela Udawatte.

India squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Subramaniam Badrinath, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Parthiv Patel, Irfan Pathan, Praveen Kumar, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Rudra Pratap Singh, Munaf Patel and Pragyan Ojha.

Umpires: Billy Doctrove (WI) and Gamini Silva (SL)

Third Umpire: T.H. Wijewardene (SL)

Match Referee: Chris Broad (Eng)