With the series already won, the 3rd Test at Pallakele will be a glorious opportunity for India to complete an overseas test whitewash, a feat that no Indian team has ever done in the past. Virat Kohli might be looking at the same with a gritty determination!
Two tests in a row, India were the better team on the pitch. The entire team performed as a unit, making them an unstoppable force. KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan gave the team a good start which was well utilized by the middle order – Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane in particular.
R Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha, Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja contributed in the lower middle with the bat with Shami smacking a couple of blows at the end. The bowling was equally good with Ashwin and Jadeja grabbing fifers in respective innings.
Wriddhiman Saha has been at the receiving end of some well-deserved adulation for his skills behind the wicket. Virat Kohli has managed his boys well, leading them to a second successive test series win in Sri Lanka.
The Lankan team, on the other hand, is in all sorts of trouble. Their bowling unit has been meek, batting unreliable and fielding well below par. They have dropped catches, bowled erratic lengths and gotten themselves out on poor deliveries. Apart from Kusal Mendis and Dimuth Karunaratne, not one batsman could keep out the Indian bowlers in the second test. They need some serious transformations and modifications in the team to return to the stature that the previous Sri Lankan teams have enjoyed in the past in international cricket.
Team News – India
Ravindra Jadeja has been suspended for one test by the ICC as he accumulated 6 demerit points within a 2-year period. He already had three points to his name before the Colombo test and three more were added when he threw the ball at Malinda Pushpakumara in a “dangerous” manner. Axar Patel has been named as his replacement in the squad. It will be interesting to see if Kohli opts to go with Patel or the Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav.
Team News – Sri Lanka
Nuwan Pradeep has been left out due to injury. Rangana Herath has been rested due to a back stiffness injury while batsman Dhanushka Gunathilaka has also been omitted. Pacers Dushmantha Chamira and Lahiru Gamage have been brought into the Lankan squad.
Key Players – India – R Ashwin and Ajinkya Rahane
In the absence of Ravindra Jadeja, Ashwin will lead the Indian bowling unit in the 3rd Test. With the ODI series selection on Sunday, Ajinkya Rahane will be hoping to cement his spot in the team. He has had a good run so far in the series with a half-century and a century in three innings. He will be looking to perform well again and keep his spot in the team.
Key Players – Sri Lanka – Dimuth Karunaratne and Malinda Pushpakumara
Karunaratne has been the only consistent batsman for Sri Lanka. He is the second highest run getter in the series, second only to Cheteshwar Pujara. His innings at the top of the order will be a defining factor.
After 99 First Class matches, Pushpakumara finally got his test debut in the second test against India. He played considerably well, scalping 2 wickets and scoring 31 runs in the two innings he batted. In the absence of Herath, his spin will be quite important.
India: KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (capt.), Ajinkya Rahane, R Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Hardik Pandya, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav.
Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne, Upul Tharanga, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal (capt.), Ajantha Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Dilruwan Perera, Malinda Pushpakumara, Lahiru Kumara, Vishwa Fernando, Lakshan Sandakkan.
Venue: Pallakele International Stadium
Date: 12th August, 2017