July 23, 2012
Sri Lanka would look to square the series when they face India in the 2nd ODI at Hambantota tomorrow. Having lost the 1st ODI by 21 runs the home team would like to make amends and come back strongly at the Indians.
They would be hoping that their premier fast bowler and star-attraction Lasith Malinga can make early in-roads into the powerful Indian top order. Malinga had a rare bad day during the 1st ODI when he conceded 83 runs off his 10 overs. He was hit around the park initially by Virender Sehwag and Virat Kohli and later by MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina towards the end of the Indian innings. Interestingly there were only 2 sixes hit in the Indian innings, one by each of these batsmen and both off Malinga, one of the most difficult bowlers in international cricket to clear the boundary off!
There would be a forced change with Nuwan Kulasekara out of the series with a groin injury he sustained while attempting a diving catch of Sehwag in the first ODI. He has been replaced by Nuwan Pradeep who would be making his debut in ODIs having already represented Sri Lanka in 3 Tests.
A good start by the openers would really help the Lankans. Upul Tharanga would have to rotate the strike more and occasionally take a few calculated risks to keep the run rate at par. He was a bit too cautious in the first ODI thus putting a lot of pressure on Sangakkara. The middle order would need to bat around Sangakkara whose century in the first ODI went in vain as the southpaw could never establish a real partnership with any one and had to preserve his wicket for a final assault at the end. By that time, the run rate required had soared up and the task become seemingly impossible.
Captain Jayawardena would particularly be worried about Virat Kohli. He has 3 fifties and 3 centuries ( last 3 innings ) in his last 7 ODIs against the Lankans.
They might want to experiment with the captain opening the innings, a position at which he has tasted success in the past, thus moving Tharanga down the order.
The home team would also be looking to improve on their fielding and catches. Dilshan dropped a sitter of Sehwag in the first ODI, when the Indian opener was on a duck. He went on to score 96.
No changes are expected in the Indian 11 though they might want to give the leggie, Rahul Sharma a chance at the expense of Pragyan Ojha who had an indifferent outing the other day at Hambantota. But that is highly doubtful with Sharma having tested positive for drugs at a rave party in Mumbai. They would be hoping for a better performance from their fast bowlers Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav who were hit for plenty in the first ODI.
Irfan Pathan would like to continue the good work and also contribute with the bat.
The selectors would be keeping a close eye on Rohit Sharma who failed to impress in the first ODI with Manoj Tiwary waiting in the wings.
India should be wary of two players in the Sri Lankan lower order-Angelo Mathews and NLTC Perera. The latter played a 28 ball 44 cameo in the first match and has increasingly gained the reputation of a dangerous late-order batsmean.
It would also be interesting to see when India takes their batting powerplay in this match. They surprised the home team by opting for it in the 16th over in the first ODI with Kohli and Sehwag in full flow. Usually the bowling side takes the first powerplay within the first 20 overs and the batting side opt for their’s between the 33rd and the 38th over.