The absence of world number one allrounder Ravindra Jadeja from India’s team has given Sri Lanka hope that they can avoid a series whitewash in the third and final Test starting Saturday, home skipper Dinesh Chandimal said.
Left-arm spinner Jadeja was banned for one match for dangerous play in India’s second Test win that secured the team an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.
But despite the hosts suffering huge defeats in the first two matches, Chandimal is confident of pulling one back against the world’s top Test side in Pallekele.
The pitch at the Pallekele ground resembles the green of the adjacent square and is expect to have bounce and carry for the fast bowlers. With a great set of pacemen, ranging from Umesh Yadav to Mohammed Shami, in their ranks, India would hope to make the surface count when they take the field in the final rubber.
India: 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 KL Rahul, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Virat Kohli (capt.), 5 Ajinkya Rahane, 6 R Ashwin, 7 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 8 Hardik Pandya, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar/Umesh Yadav, 10 Kuldeep Yadav, 11 Mohammed Shami
Sri Lanka: 1 Upul Tharanga, 2 Dimuth Karunaratne, 3 Kusal Mendis, 4 Dinesh Chandimal (capt.), 5 Angelo Mathews, 6 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 7 Dhananjaya de Silva, 8 Dilruwan Perera, 9 Dushmantha Chameera/ Lakshan Sandakan, 10 Vishwa Fernando, 11 Lahiru Kumara.
Match begins: 10 am (IST)
STAY IN THE PRESENT
India skipper Virat Kohli warned his side against complacency in the final Test.
Kohli, the only India captain to win two Test series in Sri Lanka, has led his side to eight consecutive series wins since their 2015 triumph in the island nation.
“I personally feel that it’s just a distraction that causes people to be over excited,” said Kohli.
“I think we need to stay in the present and treat every session with respect to win a Test match, and that’s exactly what we want to follow,” he added.
Kohli admitted that he is “not looking to make drastic changes” to his winning combination.
He virtually confirmed left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav’s place in the starting line-up in place of Jadeja.
“He has proven himself in Dharamsala which was not such a spin friendly wicket,” said the captain.
“He turned the game around for us so he has ability, which is very rare to find,” Kohli said of the young spinner who made an impressive debut against Australia in March.
Kohli said that Yadav’s left-arm wrist spin adds “an x-factor” to the team. “He has a great chance of playing tomorrow and I wish him all the best.”
HOPING AGAINST HOPE
“We are two down but still we are a really good team and are hoping to win this game. If we can do that, definitely we can get more confidence and move forward,” Chandimal said Friday.
“We all know he (Jadeja) is the number one bowler at the moment. It gives us a bit of confidence — bit unfortunate for you (India) guys. As a team we have something up our sleeves,” Chandimal said.
Sri Lanka have suffered a string of injuries to key players in the series. Their bowling mainstay Rangana Herath will miss the third Test with a stiff back.
Paceman Nuwan Pradeep, who bowled only 17.4 overs in Colombo before pulling out with a hamstring injury, and all-rounder Asela Gunaratne, are already out.
“India is a really good team, especially in the last two to three years. But every time players of my team are getting injured. We cannot get the combination right,” said Chandimal.
“But we don’t want to give excuses,” added Chandimal, who was appointed Test skipper after Angelo Mathews quit following the team’s one-day series loss against Zimbabwe last month.
Fast bowlers Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Gamage have been added to Sri Lanka’s squad that has faced mounting flak for their poor showing in recent months.