The first sight of the Pallekele international cricket stadium doesn’t give a positive feeling for the team batting first. The ground is under covers with rains hitting Kandy. There is a little moisture in the wicket and the batsmen need to survive the first session. It’s different from the two wickets we saw in the first two Tests. They were true batting surfaces on the the first days. India piled up 600 runs batting first on both those wickets. Kandy may not be that easy.
There is also a possibility of rain. Now, India have never whitewashed Sri Lanka in their home and this is the best chance they. If they win the third Test, Kohli will be the first captain to do it. He will also have five wins in a row in Sri Lanka.
But, he is forced to make a change in his winning XI from the previous match as Ravindra Jadeja is suspended by ICC. Kuldeep Yadav is likely to replace him but if the pitch is as green as it is on Friday, we may see a third seamer come in. Bhuvneshwar Kumar will be ideal in the conditions that assist swing. If the grass is trimmed before the start of play and that could mean the India go in with two spinners and two pacers.
For Sri Lanka, that is another problem. Nuwan Pradeep, their best pacer in recent past, and Rangana Herath, their second highest wicket-taking spinner, have been ruled out and they have to put faith in a pace attack with three bowlers who have not even played 10 matches each.
In batting, there seems to be rare exceptions of Niroshan Dickwella and Dimuth Karunaratne. Others have just not batted well. Angelo Mathews have only two half-centuries in four innings, Dinesh Chandimal didn’t impress on his return in Colombo and Kusal Mendis needs to continue after his century in the second Test.
The toss could also make a difference. Kohli has won both times till now and will hope to be third time lucky as well and take the advantage on a wicket, with a backdrop of hills, will assist seam.