The best time of attack is when one’s opposition is on the defensive and India find themselves in a similar situation, as they lock horns against Sri Lanka in the second Test of the three-match series at the SSC.
Virat Kohli-led team would be high on confidence after their 304-run win in the first Test in Galle, also biggest-ever overseas win. But the visitors can’t afford to take their struggling opposition lightly, who have the potential to claw back in the series.
India will no more have a dilemma over the opening pair as Kohli confirmed KL Rahul’s return after having to sit out the first Test with viral fever. However, the second-choice openers, Shikhar Dhawan and Abhinav Mukund also didn’t do bad either in the Galle Test, with the left-handed batsman scoring a 190 and the Tamil Nadu batsman getting a second innings 81. Also Read: Cheteshwar Pujara all set for his 50th Test
Will it be fair to replace one of them with Rahul? With Rahul returning for the second Test then it will be Mukund who has to make way.
The Indian batsmen especially the top-order has warmed up well, with Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara scoring hundreds. The Test match will also be a landmark one for Pujara, his 50th and the Saurashtra batsman would be eyeing to make it memorable. Also Read: Sri Lanka recall Lahiru Thirimanne for second Test
India won’t be too keen on making many changes to the winning composition except for the opening combination, with Hardik Pandya retaining his place after an impressive Test debut, where he scored a breezy first innings fifty and took a wicket. Pandya in the team also gives Kohli a third pace bowling option apart from the strike pacemen Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav, who were equally impressive in the Galle Test.
Kuldeep Yadav has to wait for his chance as Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin found form straightaway returning with six wickets and four wickets off the match respectively.
On the other hand, Sri Lanka really need to scratch their heads to put together a winning combination for a must-win game. Fit-again skipper Dinesh Chandimal, who missed out the first Test with pneumonia will be making a return while Sri Lanka have drafted in Lahiru Thirimanne as replacement for Asela Gunaratne, who broke his finger during the Galle Test. Also Read: How Ravi Shastri’s new training style made instant impact on Team India
Sri Lanka have strengthened their spin attack by including left-arm spinner Lakshan Sandakan, but being the fourth spinner in the 16-member squad he has to fight for his place with Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera and Malinda Pushpakumara. If Herath, who injured his finger in the first Test misses out then Sandakan may make the cut.
The last time India played at this venue in 2015, it was a green-top and Pujara as a make-shift opener scored a career-defining 145 not out. But for this Test, the groundsmen may leave some sprinkling of grass, to hold the pitch together.