India vs Sri Lanka: India gear up for five match ODI series

India tour of Sri Lank so far has been a cake walk, they clinched the Test series without much of a strain but ODI will pose different challenge and also help Men in Blue begin the journey to identify the core of their 2019 World Cup squad when they take on Sri Lanka in a five-match ODI series starting from Sunday.


India tour of Sri Lank so far has been a cake walk, they clinched the Test series without much of a strain but ODI will pose different challenge and also help Men in Blue begin the journey to identify the core of their 2019 World Cup squad when they take on Sri Lanka in a five-match ODI series starting from Sunday.

After Team India’s complete dominance in the Test series, winning comfortably with 3-0 margin, they will look to take the momentum into the limited over’ leg as well.

But India are not treating this as just another bilateral ODI series, selectors have clearly outlined this and stressed on the aspect of fitness as team begins its preparations for the 2019 ODI World Cup in England.

The Indian think-tank has made a lot of moves in this regard, and prima facie, the most important of them at present is the simple declaration that KL Rahul will bat at no.4 throughout this five-match contest.

Rahul has only played six ODIs thus far in his short injury-prone career, and in all of them, he has opened the innings.

He started with a bang scoring a maiden hundred on his ODI debut in Zimbabwe in the summer of 2016, and then added a half-century later in the series as well.

His next three ODIs came earlier in January against England, wherein he opened the innings again, but only managed 24 runs in three innings.

If fit, he would have surely been a part of the Champions Trophy squad, but with Yuvraj Singh playing that tournament in England, he would have probably opened the innings (or warmed the bench).

This move also highlights that Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma will continue to open the innings, with Rahane the third-choice opener given the presence of both Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav in the squad.

With MS Dhoni occupying the no.5 spot, and Hardik Pandya taking in the all-rounder role at no.7, both Pandey and Jadhav will be vying for that solitary no.6 spot.

The Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium hasn't been a happy hunting ground for the Men in Blue, though.

They have played 17 ODIs here, stretching back to 2004, and won nine of those matches, including bilateral and triangular series (in 2005 and 2010 involving West Indies and New Zealand respectively), and two Asia Cups in 2004 and 2010.

Head-to-head against Sri Lanka, they have played 11 ODIs at this venue but only managed to win four of them. Perhaps the most important marker in India's history at Dambulla was their game here in August 2008, when Virat Kohli made his international debut.

Teams (from):

India: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shardul Thakur.

Sri Lanka: Upul Tharanga (c), Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Chamara Kapugedera, Milinda Siriwardana, Malinda Pushpakumara, Akila Dananjaya, Lakshan Sandakan, Thisara Perera, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lasith Malinga, Dushmantha Chameera, Vishwa Fernando.