Mumbai: The Indian team, which won the title on the same ground 12 years ago and gave an opportunity to one billion countrymen to celebrate Diwali in April, will once again play a World Cup league match against the same rival Sri Lanka on Thursday, and this time the match will be extremely mismatched. While the final of the World Cup 2011 was an equal contest, this time the contest will be unequal. While the Indian team is in great form heading towards its third title, Sri Lanka is drained out defeat after defeat.
The Indian team, which has won six consecutive matches, has not faced any real challenge so far. India has performed like a champion in every department. The reason for the surge of confidence is also that India has come back from difficult situations and won, for example, losing three wickets for five runs against Australia in Chennai or winning against England in Lucknow despite a simple score of 229 runs for nine wickets. This has also raised alarm bells for the opposing teams that they will have to perform at their best to face Rohit Sharma’s team.
In the absence of Hardik Pandya, Mohammed Shami was given a chance, who has created a pleasant headache for the selectors by taking 9 wickets in two matches. Captain Rohit and coach Rahul Dravid know that Shami will have to be kept safe for the big matches ahead. There is no news yet regarding Pandya’s return but the performance of India’s youth brigade is definitely a cause for concern.
Shubman Gill and Shreyas Iyer, who came to the World Cup after performing consistently well, have not been able to play any big innings yet. Gill could not play the first two matches due to dengue and even after his return could score only one half-century. Gill, who has scored 1334 runs including five centuries and six half-centuries in 24 ODIs this year, will have to avoid throwing away his wicket.
His weakness against short balls is obvious while Iyer too has not been able to put pressure on the bowlers. Iyer has scored only one half-century in six matches. On many occasions he failed to play the role of finisher. Now they will have to forget their past failures and perform better on their home ground.
This is also the home ground of Rohit, Suryakumar Yadav and Shardul Thakur. Rohit, who has scored the highest number of 398 runs for India at an average of 66.33 in this World Cup, would like to entertain the home crowd by scoring runs with his bat. The Sri Lankan team, which performed brilliantly in the qualification round, failed in the World Cup. Injuries and unavailability of key players have added to his problems.
For Sri Lanka, Sadira Samarawickrama has scored the highest 331 runs in six matches which includes a century. Pathum Nissanka has also scored more than one thousand ODI runs this year. He has scored four consecutive half-centuries in the World Cup. Sri Lanka has match-winning players in captain Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews. Sri Lankan bowlers have also performed well but due to lack of experience, Indian batsmen will prove to be a big challenge for them.
Probable playing 11
India: Rohit Sharma (captain), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer/Ishan Kishan, KL Rahul (wicketkeeper), Suryakumar Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj.
Sri Lanka: Pathum Nissanka, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Mendis (wk/captain), Sadira Samarawickrama, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjay de Silva, Angelo Mathews, Mahish Theekshana, Kasun Rajitha, Dushmantha Chameera, Dilshan Madushanka.
Time: From 2 pm onwards.