The two teams have played each other 28 times over the past four years, the most by any two sides in world cricket. So, how easy, or difficult is it to face an opponent whom you virtually know in and out?
According to India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, constant India-Lanka clashes do make it slightly easier in terms of planning. “It gives both teams a basic idea of what the strengths and weakness of every individual are and it can also save about 15minutes of planning!” said Dhoni.
The planning part apart, India clearly fancy themselves against the island nation and statistics seem to suggest so as well. Sri Lanka have only managed to beat India twice in their last 10 meetings since the World Cup final in 2011.
One of the prime reasons for India’s success has been their ability to nullify Lasith Malinga. “We have played against him a lot and especially in the sub-continent where the ball reverses a lot making where he is at his best”.
Malinga, in last nine matches against India, has averaged 38.35 with an economy of 6.69. During the same period his average is 25.79 and economy rate 5.20 against other teams.
Asked why Malinga has struggled against the Indians, Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews found it difficult to provide a precise explanation, thereby suggesting there are no easy answers for such a conundrum.
If there’s one Indian batsman who has been adept at handling Malinga, it’s Virat Kohli. The paceman has failed to get his measure even once in nine games and has conceded 107 runs from 84 balls to the India number three since the World Cup final.
For Sri Lanka to stand a chance today, Malinga has to come out all guns blazing and hope that he is well supported by the other bowlers as well, especially in trying to get Kohli out. The Delhite has an average of 55 against the Lankans.
With rain expected to play a part, Dhoni is certain to bowl first if he wins the toss. It will present Kohli yet another opportunity to add to his impressive figures.