The T20 series between India and Sri Lanka was very entertaining and we are hoping the enjoyable cricket keeps on coming when the two sides meet in the first of what is a two-match Test series in Mohali on Friday.
India will be out to go one better in the World Test Championship than they did the first time around when they were beaten in the final. Sri Lanka currently top the latest table and have the chance to show that they aren’t going away over the next fortnight.
The last time we saw India in red ball cricket they were surrendering a 1-0 lead to lose 2-1 in South Africa so they will be eager to make the most of home advantage here to get their World Test Championship campaign back on track. There have been all sorts of changes to this India side since they went down to New Zealand in Southampton last year so we should point out that they are a team in transition, if any India side are allowed to be in that situation.
It is really the batting department and the coaching setup which has changed. The captaincy has also changed hands so there is a little getting used to all that. None of that will matter here though. They have a lot in their advantage here and anything but a win in this opening match, and the series as a whole will be viewed as a disappointment. If the batting can deliver the goods then you would expect India to go very close here.
Sri Lanka have been playing a lot of T20 cricket in recent times so they are going to need to make the adjustments to red ball cricket very quickly here. The last time we saw Sri Lanka with the whites on they were dominating West Indies. In terms of the overall Test picture right now that probably isn’t the most eye catching result in the world but just quietly Sri Lanka are forming a side which can be competitive in this format. Whether they can bloody the noses of the big three remains to be seen but they have a chance here to prove they can.
The test for Sri Lanka in this series is whether their batting can hold up against the India spinners. If it can then they can extend the matches long enough for conditions to give them a helping hand with the ball. If the batters let the Indian spinners get on top of them early then this match will go west quite quickly. The onus will then be on the Sri Lanka spinners to keep the India batters under pressure without going for big runs.
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India have a few spots in their side up for grabs in what is Test number 100 for Virat Kohli. Who bats at three and five is yet to be determined and who the third spinner is has yet to be finalised as well. One of Mohammed Shami or Mohammed Siraj will partner Jasprit Bumrah with the new ball.
Kusal Mendis is not fit for this Test while Sri Lanka are doing an England and saving their best seamer for the day-night Test which follows this one so there will be no Dushmantha Chameera. Niroshan Dickwella is expected to take the gloves.
If Sri Lanka are going to be competitive in this match then Dhananjaya de Silva is going to be a big player for them. Not only is he becoming a really important batsman for them but if the assessment of the pitch being dry and guaranteed to turn at some point is true then his spin will come into play as well. It is primarily as a batter where he will influence the game and he is building up quite an impressive record in that department.
In just 38 Test matches he already has eight centuries, one of which came in India so this attack and these conditions shouldn’t go against him too much. He comes in here off the back of a barrage of runs in the Sri Lanka domestic one day competition where three of his last four innings were centuries so he is going great guns with the bat. He has 10 catches in his last three Test matches as well so he has three methods of scoring which makes his performance line of 79.5 look a little on the low side.
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