Having made a strong comeback in their previous encounter,India would look to carry forward the winning momentum and seal the series when they take on gritty Sri Lanka in the fourth and penultimate one-day international at the R Premadasa Stadium here tomorrow.
The visitors gave a good account of their character in the third match of the series with Suresh Raina and Irfan Pathan stitching a record 92-run sixth-wicket partnership to take the visitors home to a 2-1 lead in the series after succumbing to one of their lowest totals against the Islanders in the second ODI.
However,lack of consistency by the top-order will be something to worry about for India against the hosts,who will be without their top batsman Kumar Sangakkara following a fracture in his little finger that has ruled him out of the series.
Apart from opener Gautam Gambhir,who scored a much needed century in the last game,and Raina’s match-winning knock of 65,the Indian batsmen have thrown away their wickets after getting the starts.
Rohit Sharma’s miserable run seems to have no end and with the voices growing loud for his ouster,it remains to be seen whether the Indian think tank gives Manoj Tiwary a fairly deserving chance.
Despite an enormous potential,Sharma has not been able to justify his selection in the playing eleven and has flopped in all three ODIs so far and the time seems to be appropriate for making the necessary change.
Indian bowlers have also been an inconsistent lot in the tournament so far. Pace spearhead Zaheer Khan,after a not so impressive couple of matches,bowled with lot of purpose in the third ODI and it will be once again up to him to lead the attack in the right direction.
Ashok Dinda,who replaced Umesh Yadav in the playing eleven,leaked away too many runs for his skipper’s liking and he will require to be more disciplined in his approach.
Pathan has swung the ball upfront and also been useful with the bat lower down,but the all rounder definitely needs to work out on his bowling towards the later stage of the match.
The spinners have been led well by Ravichandran Ashwin and captain M S Dhoni will wish the off-spinner comes good in tomorrow’s match as well. A lot will also depend upon
leg-spinner Rahul Sharma,who bowled well in the third game after replacing Pragyan Ojha in the eleven.
The 22-yard strip at Colombo produced nearly six hundred odd runs in the previous game and it will remain to be seen how the pitch plays tomorrow.
Sri Lankan bowlers have looked good in patches and the injury to Nuwan Kulasekara has not done them any favour either with his replacement,Isuru Udana,being taken for plenty by the Indian batsmen.
The home team have generally been inconsistent and,apart from the second ODI,have led Indians off the hook after creating chances up front.
Skipper Mahela Jayawardene will be particularly looking for an improved bowling performance from left arm spinner Rangana Herath. He would also like sling-arm speedster Lasith Malinga to strike early blows to upset the strong Indian batting.
Malinga has been found guilty of bowling on both sides of the wicket and Jayawardene would be eager that the mercurial bowler gets it right in the do-or-die encounter for the hosts.
The Sri Lanakan batting would also be put to test especially in the absence of Sangakkara. The left-hander has
so far done the bulk of the scoring for the hosts. In his absence the onus would be on Jayawardene to see off the Indian challenge.
Sri Lankans,like their counterparts from India,have not batted consistently well and it will be imperative for them that the top three deliver the goods tomorrow.
Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene (capt),Angelo Mathews (vice-capt),Tillakaratne Dilshan,Kumar Sangakkara,Upul Tharanga,Dinesh Chandimal (wk),Thisara Perera,Lahiru
Thirimanne,Lasith Malinga,Chamara Kapugedera,Rangana Herath,Sachithra Senanayake,Jeevan Mendis,Isuru Udana.
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt),Virender Sehwag,Gautam Gambhir,Virat Kohli (vice-captain),Rohit Sharma,Suresh Raina,Irfan Pathan,Ravichandran Ashwin,Zaheer Khan,Umesh Yadav,Pragyan Ojha,Ajinkya Rahane,Manoj Tiwary,Rahul Sharma,Ashok Dinda.