India vs Sri Lanka: Not very long ago these two teams were battling it out for the World title. Then transitions happened. One team has managed to get better with time while the other is still in its transitional phase. Sri Lanka play India in the 44th fixture of the 2019 World Cup. The Lankans have had a topsy-turvy run so far. They beat England, of all teams, by a convincing margin & in the very next game were smashed to smithereens by the Proteas. Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne, who was under the scanner has managed his team to a nicety, but it was down to the individual performances that Sri Lanka relied heavily upon. Avishka Fernando scored a brilliant ton against the West Indies, Lasith Malinga produced some fine bowling spells but there has been no consistency.
There’s no Sri Lankan batsman in the top 20 run-getters & no Lankan bowler features in the top 10 wicket-takers. Also, Avishka Fernando’s hundred versus the Windies was the first by a Lankan batsman in the 2019 World Cup. Sri Lanka have zero chances of making it to the top 4 but they’ve got a massive point to prove. To prove to the World that on the grandest stage of them all, they’re always a side to reckon with.
India, on the other hand, have Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah who have been at their fluent best & then they have the “dubious middle order”. “The hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see”, said Muhammad Ali, the greatest boxer of all time. Well, that analogy was used for something moving extremely fast. The Indian middle order though has been slow, uncertain & needs plenty of correction. The opponents are able to see them, hold them down & pummel them. Not something you expect from the world’s best side(as per rankings).
The men in blue have always thrived on producing some of the finest batting talents in world cricket. Yes, we have Virat Kohli & Rohit Sharma but the others seem to have hit a wall.
IS KL RAHUL PLAYING FOR A SPOT IN THE TEAM?
KL Rahul looks a million bucks when he creams half volleys through the covers but he then gets into an overcautious mode, not many thought he had. Is he playing for a spot in the team? One might wonder. Since he’s opened, Rahul has got scores of 57, 30, 48, 0 & 77. And in none of them has he struck at a strike-rate of over 85. Rohit Sharma has the tendency to start slow & then explode in the later stages of the innings. A formula that has worked perfectly for him & the team. Now, without Shikhar Dhawan out, Rahul has to take on the role of the aggressor. And he’s got all the talent in the world to do just exactly that.
In the IPL this year, Rahul scored 593 runs at 53.90 & his strike-rate then – a high 135.38. He had played knocks in the IPL where he had to bat until the end & hence started cautiously, but someone with the quality of Sharma at the other end, Rahul needs to get a move on.
Rahul’s strike-rate throughout the series has been 73.02. His balls/boundary ratio this World Cup – 14.20. For a batsman of his calibre, those are appalling numbers. Can KL Rahul change it around in the upcoming games?
WHERE WERE YOU AVISHKA FERNANDO?
The Lankan unit didn’t get off to the best of starts. An absolute drubbing against New Zealand, a scare against the Afghans & then an 87-run defeat against the World Champions. The games against Pakistan & Bangladesh were rain affected. Not that they would have steamrolled the teams but they would have certainly fancied their chances. A couple of points more & Lanka would have been in contention. They did manage to win 2 off their last 3 games thanks to a specific Avishka Fernando.
The right-handed dasher has got a lot of style & power, the testament of which was seen in the game against West Indies. Fernando was included in the squad but wasn’t included in the team until the 6th ODI against England. Until then two players had batted at the “very important” number 3.
|Number 3 for Sri Lanka||Versus||Runs||Result|
|Kusal Perera||New Zealand||29||Lost|
|Avishka Fernando||South Africa||30||Lost|
|Avishka Fernando||West Indies||104||Won|
Fernando’s List-A average is an impressive 49 & his strike-rate in these fixtures – 100. With the likes of Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis & Kusal Perera, not many would have tried Fernando at number 3. Kusal Mendis has barely managed to get bat to ball & that paved way for the youngster to make a mark & boy did he! How many will he get against Jasprit Bumrah & Co?
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Where: Headingley, Leeds
When: 6th July 2019, Saturday
Kick-Off Time: 3:00 PM, IST
India lead the overall head-to-head battle by 90-56. In World Cup cricket, Sri Lanka have beaten India 4 times & the men in blue have won 3. The last time they played each other in the mega event was in the 2011 World Cup finals. We all know what happened then.
Post the 2015 World Cup, the teams have met 9 times with Indian winning 7 & Sri Lanka only a couple. Sri Lanka beat India by 7 wickets at the Oval in 2017 – their only meeting in England in the last 4 years.
Headingley has witnessed 3 World Cup matches, two of which were won by the team batting first. The pitch tends to slow down as the game progresses & the skipper winning the toss will look to defend the target.
The pacers have picked 30 wickets on this turf while the spinners have managed 16. (World Cup 2019)
Average 1st innings score at this venue: 285
Highest score chased: 256
India beat Bangladesh in their previous game in a thriller & Sri Lanka beat the Windies in yet another nail-biter. Pacers have done well at this venue & hence Bhuvneshwar Kumar is certain to retain his place in the side. The teams are expected to remain unchanged for this contest.
EXPECTED PLAYING XI
Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli(c), Rishab Pant, Hardik Pandya, MS Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah
Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Perera, Avishaka Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Matthews, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dhananjaya De Silva, Isuru Udana, Jeffrey Vandersay, Lasith Malinga, Kasun Rajitha.
FANFIGHT FANTASY CRICKET TEAMS FOR INDIA vs SRI LANKA
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
VIRAT KOHLI – Averages 59.08 against Sri Lanka & has scored 8 ODI hundreds against them. In the World Cup 2019, Kohli has scored 5 fifties & looks in fine form. His conversion rate in one-day internationals is phenomenal & a big hundred is assuredly around the corner.
ROHIT SHARMA – He’s had a dream 2019 World Cup. 4 hundreds, 544 runs at 90.66. Against Sri Lanka, Sharma has scored 5 hundreds & averages a high 44.
BHUVNESHWAR KUMAR – Bhuvi’s only 5-for in ODI cricket came against the Lankans. He’s picked 16 wickets against them & will look to make immense before the knock-outs begin.
AVISHKA FERNANDO – Has looked in sublime touch. He’ll be tested by the Indian pace troika but will be Lanka’s, main man.
LASITH MALINGA – Malinga has tormented every team in the world. Although against India, he’s taken a serious tapping in the past, his form in the ongoing World Cup makes him a player to keep a keen eye on. Malinga has picked 12 wickets in 6 games this World Cup.
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