Unstoppable India eye clean sweep

Two comprehensive wins and the Test series has already been won by India. Riding high on confidence on the back of their eighth consecutive series win in Tests, the side is looking unstoppable and hungry for more success. Virat Kohli has been handling the captaincy exceptionally and the team is showing great results, as they seek a whitewash over Sri Lanka in their backyard.

The Sri Lankan side, somehow, haven’t been able to put up a strong fight. The Indian team owes most of its success to their massive first innings scores and the Lankans are finding it tough to keep the Indian batsmen in check. Cheteshwar Pujara is in top form and has made it count in both the matches so far. The Indian number 3 is performing consistently and has been the backbone of the batting order. KL Rahul found form straightaway, on his return in the last Test, whereas Ajinkya Rahane scored a brilliant knock too, in the middle order. The lower order contributions have been the cherry on the top for the visitors, and Ravindra Jadeja’s knock was vital to take the Indian team past the 600-run mark for the second consecutive time in this series.

Rangana Herath took four wickets in the last Test but the Sri Lankan lead bowler will miss this third and final Test due to a stiff back. Things are going from bad to worse for the hosts as they continue to lose players to injuries, which that is not helping them. Since January 2012, Herath has taken 40% of the wickets for Sri Lanka at home and his absence will be a massive blow for the Island nation. The other Sri Lankan bowlers failed to keep it tight and leaked a lot of runs.

Sri Lanka were bundled out for a low total in the first innings, in the second Test. Ravichandran Ashwin ran through the batting order and the Indians enforced the follow-on. However, Sri Lanka fought in their second innings, giving themselves a glimmer of hope. Kusal Mendis and Dimuth Karunaratne’s brilliant partnership was a silver lining for the side, but eventually it wasn’t enough to shake the Indian ship. The Indian side bowled as a unit and Ravindra Jadeja was outstanding with the ball in the second innings. The left-arm spinner was adjudged the Man of the Match as well for his all-round show, but he will be missing the third Test as he has been suspended. Axar Patel has been drafted into the side, but Kuldeep Yadav may replace Jadeja in the playing XI.

The Indian team will be looking for a 3-0 whitewash, whereas Sri Lanka will try their best to avoid that and win the final Test to restore some pride. The Lankans need to bring out something special to beat the confident-looking Indian side. If they manage to do so, then it could be a close game, even though it’s a dead rubber.

Stage:

Pallekele International Cricket Stadium:

The venue will host the third and final Test match, and India will be playing their first Test here. They could take time to adjust to this venue. Sri Lanka, have won just one game out of five, while three were drawn and lost one game. The conditions should suit batsmen in the initial stage of the Test, before the advantage switches to the bowlers.

Acts:

KL Rahul vs Nuwan Pradeep:

The Indian opener announced his return with a fluent fifty. He looked set for a big score, but was run out. Nuwan Pradeep will be having additional responsibilities on his shoulders and he would be looking to keep Rahul silent, or send him back early in the innings.

Ravichandran Ashwin vs Angelo Mathews:

The former Sri Lankan skipper couldn’t make a big impact in the last Test. He has played spin well in the past and would target Ashwin who won’t have Jadeja’s duties from the other end. Mathews has got decent starts in this series, but has failed to convert them into anything meaningful. He will hope to prove otherwise.

Mohammed Shami vs Dimuth Karunaratne:

The opener scored a breathtaking century in the second innings, when Sri Lanka were following-on. He missed out in the first Test, but made it count in the second Test. Mohammed Shami has swung the ball beautifully in the series, and will be eager to remove the in-form opener early on.


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