Colombo: Looking for a proper tune-up before the three-match cricket Test series against hosts Sri Lanka gets underway, India would be hoping that rain stays away from their one and only three-day practice game beginning at the R Premadasa Stadium here tomorrow.
India's first practice session was moved indoors at the National Cricket Club after rain played spoilsport yesterday and with thundershowers predicted for tomorrow, Virat Kohli's side will only pray for some play against Sri Lanka Board President's XI.
Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan. Pic/ AFP
It is Kohli's first full-fledged assignment as Test captain after the rain-affected one-off Test in Bangladesh and the ace bastman is keen to make to it count for himself and the team. If the batting looks good with Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay doing well at the top then the bowling, especially the spin departmemt, promises results as well.
The experience of Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra has certainly added value to the Indian spin force and they are expected to make full use of Sri Lankan wickets. Kohli though may be going through a lull in his batting form but the Delhi player has always defied his critics when the chips are down.
The young captain has himself admitted that even though it's a young Indian Test side, it promises to live up to the expectations of millions of fans. At the onset though, Kohli and company will face the Board President's XI, which is led by young Sri Lankan batsman Lahiru Thirimanne.
The side boasts of quite a few international names in veteran left-handed batsman Upul Tharanga, batsman Kaushal Silva, wicketkeeper-batsman Kusal Perera, rookie medium-pacer Lahiru Gamage and all-rounder Sachith Pathirane. It will also be interesting to see if the Indian think-tank gives it's young players like Lokesh Rahul and Varun Aaron a go in the playing XI.
Kohli's much-talked about five-bowler theory may also come to the fore in the practice game as the team would look to acclimatise in Sri Lankan weather and wickets, which are not too different from the ones back home. The game and the series will also be a chance for Indian seamers to defy their critics, who have criticised them after their patchy showing throughout the current season.
India: Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Lokesh Rahul, Virat Kohli (capt), Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Varun Aaron, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Amit Mishra
Sri Lanka Board President's XI: Dhananjay de Silva, Kaushal Silva, Lahiru Thirimanne (capt), Upul Tharanga, Milinda Sririwardena, Kusal Janith Perera (wk), Shehan Jayasuriya, Nisala Thiraka, Kasun Rajitha, Vishwa Fernando, Jeffery Vandersay, Lahiru Gamage, Danushka Gunatilleke, Sachith Pathirane, Niroshan Dickwella.