Sri Lanka vs India 3rd Test: India eye whitewash but weather might spoil the party
With the series done and dusted already, India will fancy its chances at a clean sweep before heading into the shorter formats.
An upbeat India is all set to take on hosts Sri Lanka in the third Test match in Pallekele, on Saturday. The Indians have already clinched the three-match series by winning both the first and second tests.
The first win in Galle came comfortably, with India beating Sri Lanka by 304 runs after deciding to set a target instead of asking the latter to follow-on. The Colombo Test was won by an even more comfortable margin of an innings and 53 runs.
Out of the 5 Tests played at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, the Sri Lankans have managed to win only one, having drawn three and lost one. India has never played a Test at the venue.
In all, India and Sri Lanka have played 40 Test matches against each other. India has won 18 while Sri Lanka has won 7. Fifteen matches have ended in a draw.
What's more, having played 18 out of the 40 Tests in Sri Lanka, the island nation has become India's most successful away destination. Going by Test wins, a win in the third Test would make India them the most successful visiting side in Sri Lanka.
On Tuesday, Ravindra Jadeja overtook Bangladesh's Shakib al Hasan to become the number one Test all-rounder, in addition to being the number one Test bowler already.
However, things haven't looked as rosy in the Sri Lankan camp off late. Besides Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis's centuries, which delayed an innings loss in the last match, not much has worked in hosts' favour.
Pacers Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Gamage have been added to the Lankan squad for the final Test. Danushka Gunathilaka who played in the first Test has been dropped.
Nuwan Pradeep, who suffered a hamstring injury, has been ruled out of the match, while veteran Rangana Herath has been rested due to a stiff back.
On the Indian front, Axar Patel is expected to make his debut for India. The left-arm spinner was flown in to replace Ravindra Jadeja, who has been suspended for one match by the umpires for deliberately throwing the ball at Sri Lankan batsman Milinda Pushpakumara, despite the latter not leaving the crease.
What to expect
Sri Lankan opener Dimuth Karunaratne has scored 265 runs in the tournament so far, second only to Cheteshwar Pujara. Both batsmen would be hoping to continue their sublime form and notch up another 3-figure score.
Historically, Pallekele has assisted bowlers with some bounce. Initial pictures from the venue show that a green top is in the offing. This should help the ball move off the pitch and make batting tough on the first couple of days.
The weather might play spoilsport, with forecasts predicting scattered showers and thunderstorms across the country over the next five days.With the series done and dusted already, India will fancy its chances at a clean sweep before heading into the shorter formats. The Sri Lankans, on the other hand, will look to find some form and save face by winning one of the three Tests.