Vastavam web: A horribly out-of-form Ajinkya Rahane will be aiming to get his mojo back as India, formidable even without regular skipper Virat Kohli, eye another ‘Whitewash’ against Sri Lanka in the three-match ODI series, starting on Sunday.From the polluted ‘Gas Chamber’ of National Capital, the action has now shifted to the most scenic cricket stadium in the country in the backdrop of the pristine Dhauladhar Range.With the match starting at 11:30 am in cooler confines and bouncy conditions, the toss could prove to be a crucial factor during the opening ODI.
Having won five straight bilateral series apart from reaching Champions Trophy final, a 3-0 win will put India on top of ICC ODI rankings, overtaking South Africa.Even without their inspirational skipper, a batting line-up comprising Rohit, Rahane, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav could prove to be a handful for any opposition.
While the opening slot seems locked with Rohit and Dhawan at the top, Rahane is likely to get a chance at the number three position with Kohli given a much-needed rest.The only ODI game that he played against Sri Lanka this year, Rahane scored just 5 before stumbling upon a rough patch in the Test series against Sri Lanka.With the South Africa Test series round the corner, the team management would certainly want their favourite ‘Jinks’ to break the jinx.
Dinesh Karthik and Mahendra Singh Dhoni is likely to take the next two slots, before Kedar Jadhav comes at the number six.While Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey are also in the team, the duo will get a look-in if both Dhawan and Jadhav, who has a hamstring injury, are ruled out.All-rounder Hardik Pandya will continue to be a vital cog in India’s wheel as he completes what has been an exception year in international cricket for him.
One among orthodox leg-break bowler Yuzvendra Chahal and chinaman Kuldeep Yadav will be in the playing XI along with Axar Patel, whose primary job is to restrict runs.Among others, it will be interesting to see if skipper Rohit decides to give rookie Siddarth Kaul a chance as a third pacer at the HPCA Stadium, which is expected to aid swing bowling.
Sri Lanka have shown the stomach for a fight in the Delhi Test after barely managing to save the first Test in Kolkata and losing the second at Nagpur and they would be eager to erase the ignominy of losing 0-5 at home in September.For Sri Lanka, Kusal Perera and Asela Gunaratne is returning to the team after recovering from injuries and a lot will depend on these players.Sri Lanka will bank on young batsman Dhananjaya de Silva, who scored a fighting century in the third Test to force a draw at Delhi.