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India vs Sri Lanka: Series on the line, India must strengthen batting in Mohali

India face tough test of keeping the three-match ODI series alive against Sri Lanka in Mohali.

By: Express Web Desk | Mohali |
Updated: December 12, 2017 7:39:28 pm
MS Dhoni practice in Mohali Mahender Singh Dhoni (R) with Manish Pandey at a practice session in Mohali. (Express photo by Kamleshwar Singh)

Twice in two months now, India have been put in a situation of saving a series. In October, New Zealand won the first of the three matches and India had to bounce back to win the series. Now, Sri Lanka have put India under the same pressure after inflicting a seven-wicket loss in the first ODI in Dharamsala. And now they have a chance to put India under further pressure before the home team takes flight for the all important South Africa series.

Though Mohali will not be same as the Dharamsala wicket which saw India collapse to 25 for 7 before being bowled out for 112. But, there will still be movement in air with the North India winter and rain in the air. It is again a 1130 hrs IST start which will make life difficult for the batsmen in the early stage of the match.

Sri Lanka can draw confidence from their bowling performance in the first ODI and if they can repeat it in Mohali, the Indian batting lineup, without Virat Kohli, could be in for another tough outing. The middle-order which saw debutant Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey and Dinesh Karthik fall in quick succession, may see Ajinkya Rahane back in the team. Rahane, alongwith KL Rahul, is considered to be one of the best batsmen in the team to play the moving ball and if the conditions are anything similar, one of them should be part of the playing XI.

Defending the 112-run total, Indian pace duo of Bhuneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah took three wickets and had the Sri Lankan batsmen in trouble but the total was too low to defend. Mohali will again provide them conditions which they will enjoy. In the spin department, the two wrist spinners — Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav — are likely to retain their place unless stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma opts for the left-arm spinner Axar Patel.

But more than the bowling, India need to get their batting in order. MS Dhoni scored half of the runs in Dharamsala. All other batsmen looked clueless against the moving ball. Rohit has said that Rahane is an opening batsmen but with India batsmen spending no time at the crease, it doesn’t really matter. Rahane can play at number three. It’s crucial for India to have a confident Rahane board the flight to South Africa and there is no harm in him playing a game or two before January.

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