After a thumping win in the second Test at Nagpur, team India will aim to continue its domination over the Islanders with another emphatic performance in New Delhi. While Kohli and his men are already leading the three-match series 1-0, a win at Feroz Shah Kotla will see India equal Australia’s record of nine successive series victories.
However, the Indian captain faces a happy headache of whom to open with as Shikhar Dhawan makes a return to the squad. Murali Vijay, who was out for the first Test, came into the side in the second game to score a fine 128. Hence it will be interesting to see which combination the Indian think-tank opts for. What also makes India firm favourites in this match is their record at Delhi where they haven’t lost a Test since 1990.
This third Test also serves as the last opportunity to experiment with the bench strength before the much-awaited tour to South Africa. But it seems unlikely that the Indian team management will tinker with the line-up keeping in mind the importance of match-practice.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, have been dismal in their performance so far. While they did show some spark in Kolkata, Kohli and his men diffused it in Nagpur. Added to their woes is the injury to veteran Rangana Herath which has ruled him out. Young Lakshan Sandakan seems likely to replace him and make his debut. But the biggest concern for the Lankans has been their batting. In both the Tests at Nagpur, they failed to surpass Virat Kohli’s individual score of 213. However, skipper Dinesh Cahdnimal remains hopeful as he said, “In the last game, the batting let us down. We had a really good chat after the second Test and really good meetings as a team. We have something up our sleeve. I am sure they will come up with different ideas in the next game and perform at their best.”
As far as the pitch is concerned early indications are that it will help the fast bowlers. “It has ample grass cover, it’s December, and there will be something in it for the fast bowlers,” BCCI’s chief curator Daljit Singh had said. But historically it is the spinners who have dominated the most at Kotla. So a prediction is hard to make. The average first innings score is 346 while it drastically falls to 166 in the fourth. Hence the team which wins the toss will aim to take advantage by batting first.
India: Virat Kohli (capt), Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha, Rohit Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Vijay Shankar, Kuldeep Yadav.
Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (capt), Dimuth Karunaratne, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Lahiru Thirimanne, Niroshan Dickwella, Angelo Mathews, Dilruwan Perera, Jefferey Vandersay, Roshan Silva, Dashun Shanaka, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Gamage, Lakshan Sandakan, Dhananjaya de Silva.