Tuesday’s battle in the tri-series will see India and Sri Lanka, both of whom went down in their opening encounter to hosts West Indies, go into battle with each other. With this being such a short tri-series, it will be imperative for the sides to try and win this encounter. The teams will only play two more matches in the tournament after this, and a loss on Tuesday could put their spot in the final in real jeopardy. A victory, on the other hand, will give them some much-needed breathing space.
It was India’s strong batting that let them down against the West Indies. They cannot afford to slip for a second time, against Sri Lanka at Kingston, Jamaica. Prolific opener Shikhar Dhawan’s first failure since his return to the ODI squad, on Sunday against the West Indies, showed how critical he has been to India’s success in recent times. India could not deal with Dhawan’s early loss, and ended up putting a mediocre score on the board. While there are other known names in the squad, Dhawan has quickly become the team’s new Virender Sehwag, whose dismissal immediately puts India to the back foot. India would thus love him to roar against the Lankan lions.
Not only Dhawan, India would be keen for the opening combination to fire in tandem. India’s Champions Trophy success had a lot to with the successful opening stands that Dhawan and Rohit Sharma put together. The team needs more of the same against Lanka. Considering his unbelievable record against the Asian opponents, Virat Kohli would be utterly disappointed if he doesn’t come up with a substantial score on Tuesday. The game will also be important for Dinesh Karthik in the sense that he is yet to establish his credentials since his comeback.
Meanwhile, the injury to MS Dhoni could prove to be a major setback for India. The team missed the leadership qualities of their skipper in the tense moments against West Indies, and behind the wickets as well, Karthik couldn’t maintain his keeping standards. The good part for India in the loss against West Indies was their fighting bowling performance. Even with a below par score, they came up with an effort that nearly won them the game. Contributions came from all the top bowlers, but Ravindra Jadeja had an off-day which, like Dhawan earlier in the game, hurt India’s cause.
Lanka too had similar woes against the Windies as their batting lineup came unstuck. There was no sense of consistency in their batting. While the top five got starts but only two crossed the 50 mark, the remaining six batsmen did not get into double figures. The Lankans need more out of the likes of Upul Tharanga, Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne. Their bowlers also faltered against the West Indies, but they have the experience to recover. The efforts for Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara, in particular, will be crucial.
Considering their recent record, India will without doubt begin as favourites.
--By A Cricket Analyst