Thiruvananthapuram: Though India have already clinched the ODI series against Sri Lanka by winning the first two matches in Guwahati and Kolkata, the Rohit Sharma-led side will be aiming for a clean sweep at the Greenfield International Stadium here on Sunday.
For Sri Lanka, who have been outwitted in the matches at Guwahati and Kolkata despite showing some fight, ending the tour on a high with a victory will be on their minds.
In India’s build-up to the 2023 ODI World Cup, to be held in the country in October and November, they have done fairly well. Rohit, Shubman Gill and Virat Kohli did very well with the bat in Guwahati.
At Kolkata, wicket-keeper-batter K.L. Rahul showed that he can be a reliable batter at number five when he shared vital stands with Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav in acing a chase of 216.
With the series already in the bag, it remains to be seen if India can experiment by getting Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav in the playing eleven at Thiruvananthapuram. In terms of bowling, Kuldeep, Mohammed Siraj and Umran Malik have been extremely impressive in bamboozling the Sri Lankan batters.
While Siraj has been impressive with wickets upfront, Malik has admirably stepped up to be India’s enforcer in the middle overs in the absence of tall quick Prasidh Krishna. But India would like to see Malik have more tricks in the bag after some massive improvement in control.
Kuldeep, the left-arm wrist-spinner, played the second ODI only because leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal picked up a shoulder niggle in the first ODI. He made the chance count by taking 3-51 and triggering a meltdown of Sri Lanka’s batting in the middle overs.
If Chahal regains full fitness for the third ODI, India will have a healthy headache in either playing him or persisting with Kuldeep, who is strengthening his place for the ODI World Cup squad.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, have shone, but in patches. In Guwahati, Pathum Nissanka scored 72, Dhananjaya de Silva made a 40-ball 47, and Dasun Shanaka smashed an unbeaten 102. At Kolkata, Kusal Mendis and debutant Nuwanidu Fernando did well, but despite some lofty lower-order hits, Sri Lanka weren’t up to the mark with the bat.
With the ball, their bowlers did put up a much-improved performance in Kolkata after conceding 373 in Guwahati. But they were unable to dislodge Rahul from the crease and were guilty of giving away many extras which did play a role in their being unable to save the series.
At Thiruvananthapuram, they would like for a performance where the bowlers and batters click in unison to give a strong fight to a formidable Indian team, who are aiming for a series sweep after the 2-1 series loss to Bangladesh in December 2022.
Sri Lanka: Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis (wicketkeeper), Avishka Fernando, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dasun Shanaka (captain), Wanindu Hasaranga, Chamika Karunaratne, Maheesh Theekshana, Dilshan Madushanka, Lahiru Kumara, Ashen Bandara, Nuwanidu Fernando, Pramod Madushan, Dunith Wellalage, Kasun Rajitha, Jeffrey Vandersay, Sadeera Samarawickrama