Galle: India will have an eye on the third spot in the International Cricket Council (ICC) rankings when they take on Sri Lanka in the first match of the three-Test series at the Galle International Cricket Stadium here on Wednesday.
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India, who currently occupy the fifth spot, will climb to the third position if they whitewash seventh-placed Sri Lanka 3-0 and Australia defeat England in the fifth Ashes Test at The Oval cricket ground. A 2-1 victory would see the visitors gain three points.
Virat Kohli. Pic/ AFP
India will be without in-form opener Murali Vijay, who sustained a hamstring injury during the recent Zimbabwe tour.
Vijay will be replaced by Lokesh Rahul, who produced two 40-plus scores in the Indian team's tour opener in Colombo against the Sri Lankan Board President's XI. In Vijay's absence, Shikhar Dhawan and Rahul will now open for India.
Skipper Virat Kohli, who has not been among the runs lately, will be eager to regain his touch. Kohli's scores of 8 and 18 in the practice match left a lot to be desired.
But in-form batsman Ajinkya Rahane, who scored a century in the first innings of the warm-up match is expected to boost the middle-order while the talented Rohit Sharma will also be eager to get back among the runs.
From the bowling perspective, Ishant with his five-wicket haul has shown he has a lot to offer in these pitches. Varun Aaron will look to give the experienced Ishant good support from the other end.
Spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and the veteran Harbhajan Singh will be eying to use the pitches as much as possible to get prodigious turn.
The hosts, on the other hand, will once again depend on their veteran batsman Kumar Sangakkara, who will end his illustrious career after the series.
Skipper and all-rounder Angelo Mathews, Lahiru Thirimanna, Dinesh Chandimal, Upul Tharanga are a few of the other taleneted players India need to watch out for.
The Lankans have included uncapped 23-year-old pacer Vishwa Fernando in their 16-member squad. Fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera has also been selected, subject to a full recovery from a side strain he suffered during the series against Pakistan last month.