The India- Sri Lanka rivalry in the recent years has been like a common stereotypical play. The two sides have indulged in numerous ODI’s since the last five years and the packed frequency of their bilateral ODI’s were severely criticized. However, when the question regarding test cricket arises, there is absolute silence. It has been five years since the two sides last played a test. The last time an India- Sri Lanka test match took place, Virat Kohli hadn’t even made his test debut! Now, he is busy leading the Indian team.
With the test rivalry between the two South Asian giants to commence from the 12th of August, expectations are high from both the units. The similarity between the two sides is that both are undergoing the phase of metamorphosis. While India look to begin a new era under Virat Kohli, Sri Lanka embrace life without Kumar Sangakkara after the first couple of tests.
In this article, we how a look at the five things to expect from India’s tour of Sri Lanka.
1. Series to be high on emotions
Kumar Sangakkara has the status of a Demi God in Sri Lanka. By far the best test batsman since the last five years, Sangakkara has achieved almost every record in the book. His run making ability seems to be God gifted. Sanga has enjoyed playing against India and his stats against his Asian neighbors speak for themselves. With his retirement around the corner, the presence of emotions will add a spice to the series. The last time India toured Sri Lanka for a test series, it was Muttiah Muralitharan’s farewell series. The interest in the series is sky high as a courtesy of Kumar Sangakkara’s final outing in international cricket.
2. Batsmen likely to plunder runs:
The wickets in Sri Lanka have traditionally been known to be a haven for batsmen. The extreme flat nature of the surfaces makes the test matches way too high scoring. The recent series between the hosts and Pakistan was just another instance. With the Indians having some celebrated names such as Virat Kohli, M. Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane in the ranks, it is fair to expect a lot from these individuals. From the Sri Lankan front, it will be Kumar Sangakkara who will lead the response in the first couple of tests.
3. Spinners only hope for the respective teams:
As mentioned earlier, considering the flat nature of the wickets in this part of the world, spinners are the only hope for a side. Pacers can only be effective here if they can bang the ball in excess of 145 km/hr. The Indians have a couple of pacers who can do that in Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav. But the one major issue is that their recent form is definitely not encouraging. Thus, it becomes essential that Harbhajan Singh and R. Ashwin form a lethal off spin partnership, and dismantle the Sri Lankan southpaws. Amit Mishra too will play a crucial role, if Kohli opts for three spinners. For Sri Lanka, Rangana Herath is the only person who can make a difference.
4. A glimpse of India’s near future under Virat Kohli:
The tour of Sri Lanka is the beginning of yet another busy season for the Indians. Once the Sri Lanka tests are done and dusted with, the Indians will host South Africa, the number one ranked test side. Kohli would want to remain positive against Sri Lanka at all costs. This is India’s best opportunity to beat Sri Lanka in their own den, as this is a side seriously low on confidence. It has been two decades, since India won a test series in Sri Lanka. If India endure another dismal test series, then only pessimism will linger around the Indian side ahead of their series against South Africa. In all cases, if Kohli fails to inspire his troops in Sri Lanka, then doing so against South Africa at home too seems unlikely. Thus, this series will give a brief idea about the Indians for the near future.
5. Confirmed combinations for the Indians:
The Indian management off late is dealing with a major headache. The headache revolves around several individuals vying for certain spots. For the opening slot, there are three equally dynamic candidates. The likes of M. Vijay, KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan compete for the opener’s slot. Only two of the three will get the designated slots. Each inning of the series will be crucial for them, as even a single failure could mean the reserve opener being drafted in. The number 3 position too is up for grabs. While a lot of people including the great Rahul Dravid are backing Cheteshwar Pujara, skipper Kohli has his own plans. Kohli wants Rohit Sharma to be given a longer run at 3. Sharma’s failure in the warm up encounter doesn’t help his cause one bit.
Coming to the pacers, only three out of Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron and Bhuvneshwar Kumar will be chosen. If Kohli decides to have three spinners, then only two pacers from the lot will be picked. That further compounds the headache. All in all, India’s tour of Sri Lanka will definitely answer a lot of questions.