Imposing India seek unassailable lead

Plot:

After a comprehensive win in the first for Team India, the action now shifts to the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) Ground, Colombo. The Indians will be riding high on confidence after their thumping victory which has given them a 1-0 lead in the Test series. It was a clinical performance by the visitors who will be looking to take an unassailable series lead. Sri Lanka not only suffered a big loss in the last game but also lost a couple of their key players due to injuries during the course of the Test.

Shikhar Dhawan’s magnificent 190 in the first innings set things up for the visitors. Cheteshwar Pujara’s 153 kept the innings going and gave India a perfect first innings total. Hardik Pandya stood up on his Test debut to score a brisk half century that took India to 600. Virat Kohli also got back among the runs in this format with a splendid century in the second innings The bowlers also did their jobs splendidly for India, as Sri Lanka were left nowhere in the game when they were asked to chase 550 in the fourth innings. They fell way short and handed India their biggest away win in Tests in terms of runs.

From chasing down a record total in Asia in Tests to suffering their biggest defeat in Tests by runs, Sri Lanka’s confidence came down tremendously. They were without their full-time captain Dinesh Chandimal, who is all set to play in the second Test and take on the captaincy duties. Sri Lanka have also recalled Lahiru Thirimanne, 13 months after he last played for Sri Lanka. He will replace Asela Gunaratne, who fractured his thumb while fielding in the first Test and couldn’t take any part in the match. Thirimanne scored a half-century in the practice game against India and the hosts will be banking on him to bring his experience to the fore. The Lankans have also included Lakshan Sandakan in their squad to bolster their spin department. With the likes of Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera and Malinda Pushpakumara already in the squad, it will be interesting to see if they go with the newly included tweaker.

India will look to keep the winning momentum going at the SSC. They have lost just two games out of eight at this venue, but four were drawn. Virat Kohli & co. will be looking to wrap up the series in the second Test itself. The bowlers were accurate in the last game and would look to repeat the performance in the second Test. The hosts have a knack of surprising their opponents though, and if they bring out their best then we are in for an exciting Test match.

Stage:

The Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) Ground, Colombo will host the second Test and the last time India played at this venue, they registered a 117-run win in 2015. Sri Lanka would look to stop India’s momentum here to stay alive in the series. The pitch is slated to be a usual sub-continent track. Galle didn’t take spin early in the Test, but the SSC might just be more conducive to the spinners.

Acts:

Cheteshwar Pujara vs Rangana Herath:

The Indian number 3 bats against the spinners extremely well. He loves using the feet and takes the attack to the best at the opposite end. Talking about the best, Herath is easily the top pick among the Lankan spinners. However, he had injured himself in the last game and was taken for a few runs too. He will look to come back hard in this Test and stop the run-flow off Pujara’s bat.

Dinesh Chandimal vs Ravindra Jadeja:

The number one ranked bowler in the ICC Test rankings has a habit of making life difficult for opposition captains, going by his record against the likes of former English skipper Alastair Cook and Aussie captain, Steven Smith to name a couple. Dinesh Chandimal will have to wary against Jadeja’s arm ball that usually leads to the demise of most right-handed batsmen. Chandimal will back himself against the Indians though, considering that he had a productive series the last time India toured the country, in 2015.

Mohammed Shami vs Kusal Mendis:

Mohammed Shami was very impressive when he bowled in the first innings. He accounted for one of Sri Lanka’s talented batsmen, Kusal Mendis for a duck. Mendis made a promising start in the second innings against the pacer, but couldn’t make it count. This one will be a battle of swing vs talent, and could be quite the spice when India bowl and Sri Lanka bat.


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