India in battle of survival against Sri Lanka
Dambulla: Mauled by a depleted New Zealand in the opening game, injury-ravaged and battle-weary India will have to raise their game significantly against Sri Lanka in the second match to stay afloat in the one-day cricket tri-series here on Monday.
It has been frustrating for India after the drawn Test series against Sri Lanka, which ended just a couple of days before the ODIs.
They lost the opening match to New Zealand due to a stunning batting collapse, have been unhappy with the training facilities at the Ranagiri Stadium and have reportedly even shot off a letter to the BCCI seeking an end to such excruciating scheduling.
Injuries have wrecked the balance of the squad and a bowling reinforcement has already been called in Munaf Patel to cover for the off-colour Ishant Sharma, who is nursing a knee problem.
Bowled out for 88 in the opening match against a rag-tag New Zealand attack, India have a lot of soul-searching to do.
Missing the services of reliable willow-wielders such as Sachin Tendulkar, who has been rested, and the injured Gautam Gambhir, Indian line-up does not look as formidable as it is reputed to be.
Adding to the woes is the continuing poor run of the otherwise explosive Yuvraj Singh.
The swashbuckling left-hander, who can turn the game on its head when in flow, has had a miserable run so far and it would be quite a task for him to regain form.
Younger batsmen such as Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli remain unpredictable and are yet to prove themselves consistent enough.
On the bowling front, although Praveen Kumar and Ashish Nehra have done a decent job in the absence of injured pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, they have not got the requisite support in the middle overs.
Against New Zealand, the Indians let it slip after reducing Ross Taylor`s men to 28 for three in the first 10 overs and ended up chasing a formidable 289 due to the mid-innings bowling slump.
In the absence of Harbhajan Singh, the spin department looked ineffective as Pragyan Ojha failed to replicate his fine Test form in the series opener.
The only all-rounder in the side, Ravindra Jadeja, continues to struggle with both the bat and ball, which has made it quite difficult for skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni to find the right balance.
The Lankans, on the other hand, made a winning start to their campaign although the victory was a rather hard-fought one against the gritty Kiwis.
The bowling looked in remarkable form as the likes of Lasith Malinga and Angelo Mathews ripped through New Zealand`s batting line-up but their batting did threaten to let the team down.
The uneven bounce of the track unsettled the hosts and had it not been for the patient knocks by opener Upul Tharanga and skipper Kumar Sangakkara, Taylor and Co. could well have caused another upset.
However, the Lankan batting is not prone to frequent collapses and it would be quite a task for the so far unimpressive Indian bowlers to contain hard-hitters such as Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene, Sangakkara and Tharanga.
A lot would also depend on the toss as the teams batting second have complained about the floodlights not being effective enough.
The Teams (from):
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt & wk), Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Dinesh Karthik, R Ashwin, Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Abhimanyu Mithun, Ashish Nehra, Pragyan Ojha, Saurabh Tiwary, Munaf Patel.
Sri Lanka: Kumar Sangakkara (c), Mahela Jayawardene (vc), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Dilhara Fernando, Rangana Herath, Suraj Randiv, Chamara Kapugedera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Ajantha Mendis, Thisara Perera, Thilan Samaraweera, Chamara Silva, Upul Tharanga.
Match starts 2.30 pm (IST).