Sri Lankan players are on the soil of India to play an exclusive five-match ODI series beginning on November 2, 2014 early in the morning 8:00 AM GMT+5:30. Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) arranged this series after West Indies left the series in the midway of tour. BCCI invited the Srilankan Cricket Board (SLC) to send their team for a short series which was followed by a positive response. Both the teams are at Barabati Stadium, Cuttack to play first ODI on Sunday. Sri Lanka lastly played on Indian pitches in World Cup 2011 which India won with ease and became champions. Sri Lanka and India faced off last time in 2009 in a Bilateral Series and India comfortably won that five-match series by 3-1.
Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been rested for first three ODI matches. Indian team selectors gave opportunity to Virat Kohli to play the role of Indian Captain in this series. It is an excellent opportunity for Virat Kohli to present his captaincy abilities. India has shown brilliant form by winning back to back three series from Bangladesh, England and West Indies respectively. Kohli has a good average against Srilanka with five hundreds and eight fifties under his bat and, also he made a much-awaited return to his form in last ODI series. Suresh Raina is in a great touch too and will be playing his 200 ODI. Opener Shikhar Dhawan has one more chance to lift his game before 2015 World Cup. However, India is not concerned about batting line-up at this time, bowling is the major area of concern that has not clicked in recent times. Shami Ahmed, highest wicket-taker for India in ODI, in 2014, despite of his elegant form this year, he is not available for this series due to an injury. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been provided rest for the series. In place of Shami Ahmed and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Varun Aron and Dhawan Kulkarni will be playing and would like to grab their chances with some beautiful performances. Varun Aaron will lead Indian pace attack. Rohit Sharma got his form by scoring a ton against India A. But, he did not make it to the team as he wasn’t able to prove his fitness after recovering from injury.
Srilanka team was attending a six-week fitness program when the Srilanka Cricket Board (SLC) announced this short series suddenly. Kumar Sangakkara had openly confessed that this series was a hastily arranged tour for Srilanka. Captain Angelo Mathews said clearly that his side wanted to play in India, but he also showed his stress by saying, they need more time for preparations to play against the champions. Srilanka will miss Lasith Malinga, the most destructive force in their bowling line up as he is suffering from an injury. They also lost their warm-up match against India A, which worsens the matter. The visitors have experienced campaigners in batting line-up, with the likes of Mahela Jayawardene and Sangakkara. Upul Tharanga got some runs under his bat in a warm-up match, and Srilankan skipper Mathews has been in sublime touch this year. In bowling attack, no one has experience of more than 30 ODIs excluding Thisara Perera and Mathews. Bowling spearhead Nuwan Kulasekara seems out of touch. ‘If some of the other players in our batting line-up except the two senior players (Jayawardene, Sangakkara) and the captain (Mathews) can take up the burden, we will do better,’ Sri Lanka coach Marvan Atapattu said.
Sri Lanka: Upul Tharanga, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara(w), Mahela Jayawardene, Angelo Mathews(c), Chaturanga de Silva, Thisara Perera, Ashan Priyanjan, Nuwan Kulasekara, Seekkuge Prasanna, Lahiru Gamage, Suraj Randiv, Kushal Janith Perera, Dhammika Prasad, Niroshan Dickwella
India: Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli(c), Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, Wriddhiman Saha(w), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Varun Aaron, Dhawal Kulkarni, Amit Mishra, Akshar Patel, Murali Vijay
Pitch and conditions:
The ground at the Barabati Stadium is notoriously known as ‘bowler’s pitch’ due to the slow nature of the pitch and has not produced much runs in past few ODI’s. Last match played in this stadium was not completed due to heavy rain on October 26, 2013. Weather is clear on Cuttack, which is a good news for cricket fans.