Kolkata: Weather gods can play a spoil sport during the first test match here at Eden Gardens which gets underway from tomorrow. A depression over the Bay of Bengal has forced both the teams to cancel their training sessions on the eve of the test match. Virat and his team will look to continue its recent dominance over the islanders. The Men in Blue recorded a 9-0 whitewash over the Lankans across all formats in their recent tour to the Emerald Isle.
Dinesh Chandimal and his team will be going into the test match after registering a thumping 2-0 series win over Pakistan in UAE. Indians will play their first test series against the same opponents before embarking on a tough tour to South Africa end of the year.
For a start, skipper Virat Kohli and his deputy Ajinkya Rahane will look to get back among runs.
While Kohli’s last big score came way back in February against Bangladesh where he scored 204, Rahane has not got a hundred since his 188 against the Kiwis in Indore last year. Kohli has not got a half-century in his last five Test innings, and Rahane has been guilty of not converting his starts.
Both ace batters practised a lot of reverse and paddle sweeps at the nets in the build-up to the Test.
Kohli, who has been dismissed trying to drive on the front foot of late and playing away from his body, even got the handle of his bat trimmed during nets on Monday rectifying his drive.
Rahane, on the same day, reverse-swept chinaman Kuldeep Yadav square and fine of the wicket, a weapon the right-hander might use against veteran left-arm spinner Rangana Herath.
India have been aggressive against Herath, Sri Lanka’s highest wicket-taker in the team, in recent past.
In the last two years, the 39-year old who has 405 scalps to his name, has averaged 53.61 against India, taking 13 wickets in four Tests and giving away 3.58 runs per over.
It goes without saying that Herath will be skipper Dinesh Chandimal’s go-to man besides all-rounder Angelo Mathews who is making a comeback. Out of the Pakistan series with a calf injury, the former skipper looked good for his 54 retired in the warm-up game against the Board President’t XI.
Sri Lanka’s bowling did not look good against a lowly Board President’s side shorn of quality domestic players due to the ongoing Ranji Trophy.
They could only manage to take five wickets although Herath, who took 16 wickets in two Tests against Pakistan, was not bowled much.
In their batting, opener Dimuth Karunarate has been among runs in Pakistan (306 runs in 4 innings). Fellow opener Sadeera Samarawickrama, slated to replace Kaushal Silva who is not here, gave a good audition in the tour match with a strokeful 74 of just 77 balls.
Besides Silva, the Lankans are also without the services of promising batsman Kushal Mendis and seasoned pacer Nuwan Pradeep.
Coming back to India, with in form all-rounder Hardik Pandya rested for this series it will be interesting to see who takes his place. Going by the nature of the pitch and weather conditions prevailing, Indian team management may be influenced to play three seamers. In that case Bhuvneshwar Kumar can be the third medium pacer along with Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami. It might be interesting as to who pairs with Ravichandran Ashwin. Ravindra Jadeja looks to be the frontrunner to be in the playing XI.
India: Virat Kohli (Captain), KL Rahul, M Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha (wicketkeeper), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma.
Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (captain), Dimuth Karunaratne, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Lahiru Thirimanne, Niroshan Dickwella (wicketkeeper), Dilruwan Perera, Rangana Herath, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Gamage, Dhananjaya de Silva, Angelo Mathews, Lakshan Sandakan, Vishwa Fernando, Dasun Shanaka and Roshen Silva.