After West Indies decided to go back to the Caribbean, India’s neighbour and perhaps its most frequent opposition over the last few years, Sri Lanka agreed to come over. All set to play five-ODI series, this, and every tour here on will be seen as a practice for the upcoming World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Though the playing conditions down under will be completely different, familiarity with opponents and gaining confidence beforehand would never hurt. Ready and raring to go, India and Sri Lanka will go head-to-head in the first game at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack on Sunday. Reiterating the fact that will be a preparatory series for the World Cup, this series between the two Asian rivals, touted to be two of the favourites to win the coveted silverware, will have a huge impact on their build-up to the mega tournament.
Though the Men in Blue lost the first ODI against the Caribbean men, they reinstated their authority and emerged on top of the remaining games that the visitors played and will be working towards continuing that streak. With Captain Cool Dhoni, rested for the first three games, the rein of the team will be in the hands of the effervescent Virat Kohli, who will definitely look into trying new permutations and combinations before India heads to Australia for a marathon tour. After a poor outing at England, this is Kohli’s chance at redeeming himself and continue with the striking form he had flaunted against West Indies few weeks earlier. For all the Virat fans however, prayers would be towards a stark improvement in his troubles with the off-stump. In the bowling department Ravichandran Ashwin is back, and an accurate Varun Aaron is an assurance of a good pace attack. With the confidence of wins and the backing of consistent performance, along with the support of the home crowd India will strive towards gathering up this home win against the Lankan men.
The guests are aware of not having much of a success in India, and in the absence of the dangerous Lasith Malinga and the formidable Rangana Herath, it would be an uphill task for the Lankan brigade. Though Captain Angelo Mathews admitted that his side might not be in their best form against India in the series, but given the form that they have displayed this year, Sri Lanka should be confident about the Indian challenge. Known for their tactical approach to the match, with just a little bit of extra effort from the experienced trio of Sangakkara, Jayawardene and Dilshan, the team might just trump Virat Kohli’s Men in Blue.
Apart from the two teams in different shades of blue, the third factor which will have an impact on the match is the dew factor at the Barabati Stadium. Though the match is predicted to be a run-fest, the toss will be a crucial factor, and the teams will have to do a lot of thinking before stepping into the field.
With teams prepared, predictions set and a Super Sunday set to kick-off, this match will be nothing short of a potboiler. Game… Set… May the best Blue win!