Virat Kohli’s started off his reign as the captain of India with the series against Sri Lanka in their own backyard in August 2015.
The first test was a disappointment as Kohli and co lost their way on Day 5 while chasing and lost the match even after being in a dominating position for the first 4 days. They came back strong in the games that followed to win the 3 match series 2-1 as Kohli became the first ever Indian skipper to win a test series in Sri Lanka in over 2 decades.
Team India is back on the tour with Ravi Shastri as the new Head Coach of the team. The Shastri-Kohli duo led India to a nervy series win 2 years ago. It will be interesting to see if they can repeat the same this year around.
The teams looked pumped up as India will be looking to keep their top position in the ICC Test Rankings alive while Sri Lanka will be trying to win and raise themselves higher from their current 7th position. Let’s have a look at the players from either side of the Palk Strait who can play the result-defining roles for their side.
India – Virat Kohli and R Ashwin
Apart from the quiet series against Australia, Virat Kohli had a tremendous test season at home in late 2016 and early 2017. His form continued into the Champions Trophy where he led his team to the final with successive match-winning knocks. Following that, came the West Indies series, where India won the series, thanks to Virat’s century in the 5th ODI. At no. 4, Kohli will hold the key to the Indian batting against a relatively new Sri Lankan side.
The spearhead of the Indian bowling lineup, especially in the Indian subcontinent, R Ashwin will be the bowler to watch out for. Along with Ravindra Jadeja, Ashwin is a lethal weapon that gets Virat Kohli crucial breakthroughs.
Sri Lanka – Upul Tharanga and Rangana Herath
The newly appointed limited overs skipper, Upul Tharanga, boasts of plenty of ODI experience. Though he has relatively less experience in tests, he will be their most depended upon batsman, considering his current form.
Rangana Herath, who will be leading the side in the absence of Dinesh Chandimal who is out of the first test due to pneumonia, will be Sri Lanka’s most feared to be bowler thanks to his phenomenal home record. He recently got Sri Lanka home with a staggering 11-wicket haul against Zimbabwe and holds the record for most 10 wicket hauls in tests among the active players.
Here is the probable XI that might feature for both teams in the first test scheduled at Galle from Wednesday.
Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne, Upul Tharanga, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Matthews, Nirosan Dickwella (wk), Dhananjaya de Silva, Dhanushka Gunaratne, Rangana Herath (capt.), Vishwa Fernando, Suranga Lakmal, Dilruwan Perera.
India: Abhinav Mukund, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (capt.), Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma.
Schedule: 26th July, 2017