India eye another series victory over Sri Lanka

Plot:

The last time Sri Lanka won a bilateral ODI series against India was over 20 years ago, in 1997. Since then, the Men in Blue have won eight ODI series against the island nation. Sri Lanka won their first international against India, in 2017, after they beat India convincingly in the first ODI of the series, in Dharamsala. They stopped India’s winning streak, only to face the rampaging Rohit Sharma in the second ODI in Mohali, where the Indian skipper bludgeoned an unbeaten 208. The series is levelled at 1-1, and the decider will be played in the port town, Vizag.

India sorted their batting issues from the first ODI, and bounced back in style to post 392 after being put into bat. Rohit hammered his third ODI double century and literally, batted Sri Lanka out of the match. He received ample support from fellow opener, Shikhar Dhawan & youngster, Shreyas Iyer. The bowling was pretty tight too, as they restricted Sri Lanka to 251 runs, 142 short of the target. An Angelo Mathews century couldn’t take the Lankans beyond 300, as the rest of the line-up failed to contribute heavily.

While Sri Lanka’s batting wasn’t tested much in the first ODI, the Indian bowlers exposed a few loopholes in Mohali when they had a massive score to defend. The Lankans couldn’t get going in the chase, and they let the required run rate climb in each over. The Indian bowlers got the ball in the right areas, and didn’t let the batsmen get away freely. The Lankan bowlers were a different bunch in nature from what they were in Dharamsala. They dished out way too many full tosses while attempting Yorkers, and the lengths were totally off. This allowed the Indian batsmen to take full toll and score easy runs all over the park. They will look to tighten their line & length in an attempt to win their first bilateral ODI series against India since 1997.

Stage:

Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium, Visakhapatnam

Of the seven ODIs played at this venue, India have won 5, lost 1, while one ODI was cancelled. Only once has a score of over 300 been posted at this venue. This happened when MS Dhoni crashed 148 against Pakistan in 2005. Also, Rohit Sharma has scored two half centuries in his three outings here. The surface in Vizag is usually conducive to spinners, as opposed to the pitches in the first two ODIs of this series. The ball may not come on to the bat as easily, and batsmen may have to work hard for their runs.

Acts:

Rohit Sharma vs Angelo Mathews:

In the last ODI, Rohit Sharma was very severe on Angelo Mathews. Sri Lanka’s former skipper didn’t bowl during the Tests, but decided to use the new ball in both the ODIs. Interestingly, he has dismissed Rohit seven times in ODIs, the most for any bowler. The next best is Tim Southee with five dismissals. Can the Lankan bowler revive himself and get Rohit early, or will the Indian skipper attack him again?

MS Dhoni vs Thisara Perera:

MS Dhoni & Thisara Perera’s tale is akin to the Rohit-Mathews story. Perera has dismissed Dhoni more times than anyone in ODIs. He got there by dismissing him on both meetings in this series. However, Dhoni returns to a ground where he scored his maiden ODI century, a blistering 148 against Pakistan. Will the ground prove to be a happy hunting one once again for Dhoni?

Yuzvendra Chahal vs Asela Gunaratne:

The dashing Lankan batsmen showed a lot of intent even though Sri Lanka were on the back foot for most parts of the chase. He pulled out some exquisite reverse sweeps against the Indian spinners, especially Yuzvendra Chahal. However, the leggie got the better of Gunaratne when he got him stumped. A case for the stylish batsman batting higher up in the order could be strong. When the opportunity comes, he will definitely look to take on Chahal once again.


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