After a scintillating performance against West Indies and now Sri Lanka in the T-20 series, Team India is all set to confront Sri Lanka in the longest format of cricket. India is set to host the island nation in a two-match Test series starting March 4 in Mohali.
Rohit Sharma’s full-time captaincy started on a commanding note and India is unbeaten since he has been given the leadership role. The Hitman will lead India for the first time in red ball cricket after being appointed as India’s skipper in all three formats. His leadership qualities will be tested over 5 days of intense cricket. Jasprit Bumrah has been named his deputy.
India is playing a test match after a sour defeat from South Africa in a Test series in January. It's been a while since Sri Lanka played their last Test match against West Indies where they had a 2-0 clean sweep win back in November 2021. Both teams will be gunning to win their first Test match of 2022.
CONFIDENT INDIA AFTER T20 SERIES WIN
Talking about the team's previous series status, India will definitely be filled with confidence however Sri Lanka looks troubled after their 0-3 T20I defeat on Indian soil. Though considering the change in format and their previous Test series results against West indies they must be looking forward to carrying over the same momentum.
Team India will have quite a few changes in the team. In the absence of Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara, who for the longest time, was guarding the number three position for
India, have been dropped. The spot can be filled by anyone among Shubhman Gill, Hanuma Vihari or Shreyas Iyre. With Shreyas Iyer scoring a hundred in his debut Test against New Zealand, Hanuma Vihari will also need to play a few defining knocks in this series to safeguard his place if given a chance. On the other hand, in the absence of KL Rahul, it will be a great opportunity for Mayank Agarwal to make a mark in the team. Shardul Thakur has been rested for the whole series against Sri Lanka resulting in the return of Ravindra Jadeja.
Sri Lanka might continue with the same playing 11 as against West Indies last year. Captain Dimuth Karunaratne and Pathum Nissanka are in great form. Vice-captain Dhananjaya de Silva who was the player of the match during the final Test against West Indies for his impressive unbeaten 155 run-innings is also in red-hot form. Ramesh Mendis’ will miss out the series after a thumb injury. All eyes will also be on left-Arm Leg Spin Bowler Lasith Embuldeniya who is well remembered for his impressive 5-fer against West Indies.
KOHLI TO ACHIEVE ‘VIRAT’ MILESTONE
The first Test match between India-Sri Lanka is special for various reasons. Firstly, former skipper Virat Kohli will make his 100th Test appearance in the clash and when he does breach the 100-mark in terms of games, he will be only the 2nd player to play 100 games minimum in all 3 formats with Ross Taylor being the first one to do the same. Kohli was rested for the recent T20I series against Sri Lanka. So, the spotlight will be on him again and now when 50 per cent crowd capacity will be able to view his batting at the Punjab Cricket Stadium in Mohali what else could be better for fans who are eagerly awaiting his next century. Not to forget, Virat played some incredible knocks in Tests against Sri Lanka back in 2017 and smashed 243 runs. Also, talking about his overall test career, since his test debut in 2011 he has gone on to score 7962 runs at an average of 50.4.
Also, India will be eyeing the number 1 spot in the ICC Men’s Test team rankings. While Sri Lanka will aim for their first Test win against India in India.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Stats say, Sri Lanka have been one of the favourite oppositions for both Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. In 5 matches Rohit has scored 432 runs with an SR of 48.00, while Virat Kohli has amassed 472 runs in 8 matches with an SR of 39.73
In India’s bowling department Vice-captain Jasprit Bumrah is returning after a break and it seems he and Mohammad Shami enjoy playing against Sri Lanka, as they have some good bowling numbers against them. Jasprit Bumrah grabbed 30 wickets in 8 matches with an economy of 2.56, while Shami has bowled with an economy of 2.99 in 7 matches with 29 wickets in account.
India holds the upper hand against Sri Lanka in the last 5 Test matches with 3 wins and 2 draws in head-to-heads. Overall, India and Sri Lanka have faced each other in 44 matches in Tests. Out of these 44 games, India have won 20 whereas Sri Lanka have come out victorious on 7 occasions while 17 matches have ended with a draw.
Team India seems a more confident team in terms of past performances in Test cricket but one can’t deny the fact that the Lankans can pose some serious challenges to Team India in all departments.
India: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Mayank, Priyank Panchal, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Rishabh Pant, KS Bharat, R Ashwin (subject to fitness), R Jadeja, Jayant Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav, Bumrah (VC), Shami, Siraj, Umesh, Saurabh Kumar.
Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Pathum Nissanka, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dhananjaya de Silva (vc), Kusal Mendis (subject to fitness), Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Charith Asalanka, Niroshan Dickwella, Chamika Karunaratne, Lahiru Kumara, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera, Vishwa Fernando, Jeffrey Vandersay, Praveen Jayawickrema, Lasith Embuldeniya.