In their match against West Indies on Sunday, India suffered not one but two huge jolts. Dhoni’s hamstring injury that ruled him out for the rest of the tournament and their surprise one-wicket loss, putting paid to their aims of continuing their winning run.
The match against Sri Lanka thus becomes doubly important and will be under far too much scrutiny than what it earlier demanded. The team needs to start afresh under the helm of Virat Kohli, who himself has quite a few ODI captaincy questions to be answered.
Team India Strengths: In the first ODI against West Indies, India did manage to get to a decent and respectable total of 229. The bowlers too got their act together before Kemar Roach and Tino Best spoiled the party with an impressive 10th-wicket stand to secure the win for West Indies.
In spite of the team’s loss to West Indies, India would still be going in with their spirit and momentum intact considering that they are just fresh from their last victory over the Lankans a few weeks ago.
Team India Weaknesses: Virat Kohli’s statement that the team was missing Dhoni’s calmness during the last few overs of the West Indian batting brought out a different face of the Indian cricket team. Though a strong side over the Lankans, India however cannot afford to lose composure during the critical moments of the match that could hamper its chances of securing a win in the series.
Opportunities and Threats: Virat Kohli has been long touted to lead the country. Dhoni’s absence, however ill-fated, offers the 24-year-old a chance to prove his credibility in the longer format of the game as he has done in the IPL.
Imbalance in the team composition could pose a problem for India, though. Either Ambati Rayadu or Murali Vijay could find their place in the team in place of Dhoni and the team’s well-set nature could be disturbed, thus allowing Sri Lanka to gain an advantage in such an imbalance.
Pitch Factors: A bowler-friendly, slower track as seen in the previous two matches. The team winning the toss would thus be inclined towards fielding first and then possibly, successfully chasing the set target.
India to win over Sri Lanka in the absence of unnecessary dramatics.