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Match Preview – India vs Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka in India 2021/22, 2nd Test

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This will be the last Test for Suranga Lakmal. Can Sri Lanka make it a memorable one for him?

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Ravindra Jadeja’s superlative all-round show in Mohali meant Sri Lanka were no match for India in the first Test, and as the caravan moves to Bengaluru for the pink-ball contest, the hosts look even stronger.

Axar Patel has recovered from a shin injury and a bout of Covid-19, and if he replaces Jayant Yadav in the XI, it would be an upgrade in both batting and bowling. In his fledgling Test career, Axar has picked up 36 wickets at an average of 11.86. When India last played a pink-ball Test, against England in Ahmedabad in 2021, he was the Player of the Match for his match haul of 11 for 70.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, are grappling with injuries to key players. Pathum Nissanka was one of the few positives for them in the Mohali game, scoring an unbeaten 61 in the first innings, but has now been ruled out of the second Test with a back injury. Lahiru Kumara will also be unavailable for selection with a hamstring tear, while Dushmantha Chameera, who is managing his ankle injury, has been advised against playing by the medical team. The only good news for them is that Kusal Mendis is fit.
This will be the last Test for the retiring Suranga Lakmal, and Sri Lanka will want to make it a memorable one for him. And then there is the small matter of the World Test Championship. The visitors are currently third on the points table, but a defeat in Bengaluru will push them down to fifth, while victory for India would bump them up one slot to fourth.
Both India and Sri Lanka have played three day-night Tests each with the same record: two wins and a loss. But Sri Lanka’s last day-night Test was more than three years ago, where they lost to Australia by an innings and 40 runs.

Form guide

India WLLWW
(last five Tests, most recent first)
Sri Lanka LWWWD

In the spotlight

The wait for Virat Kohli‘s 71st international hundred is getting longer and longer. It has now been 71 innings (49, if you exclude T20Is) in international cricket since his last hundred, which coincidentally came in a pink-ball Test against Bangladesh in Kolkata. It is not that he has looked out of sorts in this period, but the three-figure score has somehow eluded him. Fans will expect Kohli to end that streak at his adopted home.

Suranga Lakmal is not someone who puts fear in the minds of batters, but in helpful conditions, he is accurate enough to trouble them with just enough seam and swing movement. In three pink-ball Tests, he has picked up 13 wickets at 17.53 with a strike rate of 41. His tally includes 5 for 75 against Australia in Brisbane. In the absence of Chameera and Kumara, Sri Lanka will rely a lot on Lakmal.

Team news

India are spoilt for choices. If they want to retain three spinners, they can bring in Axar for Jayant. If they want to go with three seamers, which is unlikely, Jayant could be replaced with either Umesh Yadav or Mohammed Siraj.

India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Mayank Agarwal, 3 Hanuma Vihari, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Shreyas Iyer, 6 Rishabh Pant (wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Axar Patel, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Mohammed Shami

Mendis and Praveen Jayawickrama are likely to slot in for the injured Nissanka and Kumara. Sri Lanka could also consider replacing Vishwa Fernando and Charith Asalanka with Dinesh Chandimal and Chamika Karunaratne.

Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), 2 Lahiru Thirimanne, 3 Kusal Mendis, 4 Angelo Mathews, 5 Dhananjaya de Silva, 6 Dinesh Chandimal/Charith Asalanka, 7 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 8 Chamika Karunaratne, 9 Suranga Lakmal, 10 Lasith Embuldeniya, 11 Praveen Jayawickrama

Pitch and conditions

Dimuth Karunaratne said that the pitch is “very dry” and has little grass covering. It’s expected to help spinners, so the teams may prefer batting first after winning the toss. The weather should be mostly sunny during the daytime with a few passing clouds in the evening. There is no forecast of rain.

Stats and trivia

  • R Ashwin is currently ninth on the list of bowlers with most Test wickets. He needs four more to go past Dale Steyn’s tally of 439. After that, it is Courtney Walsh at 519.
  • In ten Tests against India, Karunaratne averages 24.90, his second-lowest against any team. The lowest is against Australia (17.18 in eight Tests).
  • In his last 30 Tests, Jadeja has scored 1436 runs at 49.51 and taken 112 wickets at 25.24.
  • Quotes

    “Axar adds a lot of value to the squad. He offers a lot with the bat, ball, and in the field. Whenever he is fit, he straightaway jumps back into the squad. But there will be a discussion about what combination we want to go with.”
    Jasprit Bumrah on if Axar is a straight swap for Jayant

    “We want to win a Test somehow, and do something that hasn’t been done before. We have a big expectation. From day one till the last day we know what we have to do, but we have to put that in motion.”
    Dimuth Karunaratne wants his players to apply themselves in the middle

    Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo



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