The current management group of Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid—who rejoined the side for Saturday’s optional practice session in the evening—have their sights trained firmly on the home World Cup later in the year
Ishan Kishan during India’s training session on Saturday. Pic/PTI
A harsh Saturday sun beat down on the Greenfield International Stadium, winter nowhere in evidence as the capital city of Kerala braced for India’s final ODI against Sri Lanka. It’s a game with pride at stake for both teams—having already taken a winning 2-0 lead, India will seek to extend their awesome record at home by making a clean sweep, while Sri Lanka, who have had their moments on this short white-ball tour, will want another ‘W’ to show for all their efforts.
10 home series wins v Lanka
Thursday’s nervy four-wicket victory at the Eden Gardens took India to their 10th ODI home series triumph against the 1996 World Cup champions, as extraordinary a record as the fact that India have won 22 of the last 25 ODI series in their own backyard. Even accounting for the familiarity with conditions, that’s a jaw-dropping statistic, a tribute to the strength and resilience of teams over the last 12 years under different skippers and managements.
The current management group of Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid—who rejoined the side for Saturday’s optional practice session in the evening—have their sights trained firmly on the home World Cup later in the year.
Ishan, Surya likely to play
Sunday gives Rohit and Dravid an opportunity to try out the bench, if they so desire. Ishan Kishan, who made a double-ton in his last ODI, and Suryakumar Yadav, who slammed a century in his last international game, are obvious choices, but whether they get a go depends on what the line of thinking is. Arshdeep Singh, the impressive left-arm quick who was
Player of the Match during India’s drubbing of South Africa in a T20I here last September, is another chomping at the bit, as is Washington Sundar, the off-spinning all-rounder who has had his fair share of bad luck through illnesses and injuries.
No matter which line-up India put out, they won’t suffer in comparison skills or intensity-wise. They can’t afford to, against a Dasun Shanaka-led outfit that have been competitive in patches, but hasn’t maintained pressure for long periods. They had India on the mat at 86-4 at the Eden in the quest for 216, but India’s
depth came to their rescue with KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya and Axar Patel bailing them out. Shanaka has been exemplary with the bat all tour, and if he targets a final hurrah at a traditionally low-scoring ground, it’s unlikely anyone will grudge him that.