Ind Vs SL: Eighth-ranked Sri Lanka will kick-start their limited-overs campaign with the first One-day International of the three-match series at Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamsala.
Recently, the scoreline since particularly in the 50-over format read 3-0 in India’s favour when Virat Kohli-led formidable India toured Sri Lanka.
Following the impressive fifth day show by Lions during the third and final Test fixture at Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in Delhi on December six (Thursday), the players including Dhananjaya de Silva and gloveman Niroshan Dickwella, who had played their part would be aiming to give their best in the different format altogether.
The visitors salvaged some pride by playing a draw, as the side under a new leader Thisara Perera would be aiming to give solid performances against the ICC ranked second in the ODI cricket.
It would be interesting to see how Sri Lanka would shape up in the limited-overs leg, but this time around the side is expected to spring a surprise or so even Dinesh Chandimal has been left out of the squad.
On the other side, Lanka have been struggling; it is evident from the fact they are below Bangladesh in the ranking charts.
With the inclusion of Asela Gunaratne the side has now the variety available in the bowling department, but the worrying sign is that inexperience might further derail the slide which is eyeing for the resurgence in the top-flight cricket.
Let’s have a look who could form the playing XI for the Lions in Dharamsala against the quality side.
The 32-year-old left-handed batsman is the experienced campaigner in Sri Lankan line-up. He has played 215 ODIs in which he amassed 6,481 runs at an average of 34.47.
The Balapitiya-born batsman Tharanga has the knack of scoring runs at pace and he has shown that in the past.
Tharanga’s start at the top would play a crucial role for the Lions against decent India’s bowling line-up.
In his early days of international, Danushkha Gunathilaka has shown relatively a quality performance with the bat and his acceleration to score runs while coming to open the innings would further play a crucial role on the ongoing tour of India.
The left-handed batsman Gunathilaka has smashed seven fifties and a solitary hundred in 27 ODIs. He would be handy with the ball as well owing to his off-spin bowling option.
The top-order batsman Lahiru Thirimanne has the potential to give his best in the 50-over format.
The left-handed batsman has been playing according to his strength and has succeeded in between.
With the dip in his form, he would be expecting to make it count during the challenging series.
The injury-marred all-rounder Angelo Matthews has witnessed a lot throughout his career and he would be a player to watch out for with the experience on his back.
Known for giving his best on the field, Mathews would be aiming to set the plinth for the visitors while focusing on his batting to score the bulk of runs for the Islanders.
Dhananjaya de Silva:
The batting all-rounder Dhananjaya de Silva, who was one of the heroes for depleted-looking Sri Lanka claimed the spot by his decent performances back home in the recent past.
Having the ability to rotate de Silva would be a key player in the middle for Sri Lanka which has struggled when it comes to the batting in particular.
Niroshan Dickwella (wk)
The gloveman in the form of Niroshan Dickwella has two centuries and seven fifties in 29 ODIs so far as his strike-rate of over 92. He could be an important figure altogether for a team-like Sri Lanka which has struggled to impress many when it comes to the 50-over leg.
The left-handed batsman has a lot to work on behind the stumps.
The Kandy-born batting all-rounder Asela Gurnarate has all the shots in his book and could change the complexion of the game, but with India, a different surface to bat on it would be interesting to see how the promising player would deliver while facing Men in Blue.
Interestingly, in 2017, Thisara Perera is a seventh player to lead the Sri Lanka in all three formats. The all-rounder has an additional responsibility apart from the bowling and the batting.
Following the poor run, Thisara has also missed out distinct tours before returning to the fold.
Thisara, who claimed 133 wickets in 125 ODIs has a lot to prove with the bat to keep his side right into the game.
The spin-bowling all-rounder Akila Dananjaya could be significant with the ball against batting heavy India.
Interestingly, the off-spinner has played four out of overall six ODIs against India in which he claimed nine wickets at an average of 23.22.
Suranga Lakmal is bound to open the bowling for Sri Lanka and his experience in India, particularly in the recently concluded Test series, would benefit the visitors following the discipline and commitment in the bowling.
The 30-year-old right-arm fast bowler Lakmal, who bagged 90 wickets in 67 ODIs, would be shoulder the responsibility to take care of the bowling department.
In a tossup between Dushmantha Chameera and Nuwan Pradeep, the latter is expected to open the bowling alongside Lakmal, who has impressed many in the Sri Lankan fold and would further be aiming to be among the wickets for his national side.
Although, Pradeep’s statistics of 26 wickets on 23 ODIs might not seem any impressive in the highest level of cricket, his ability to generate pace could help the cause of his team in nutshell.