The big picture: can Sri Lanka make a comeback?
The last time India and Sri Lanka played an ODI at the Eden Gardens in 2014, Rohit Sharma scored a world record 264. In the ODI at Guwahati on Tuesday, he looked poised for a big century before getting dismissed for 83 off 67 balls. Nevertheless, it was a huge positive for India as Rohit was playing his first match back from a hand injury in Bangladesh.
Rohit’s decisions regarding playing eleven also proved to be correct. Before the inaugural ODI, he had announced that Shubman Gill was ahead of Ishan Kishan in the pecking order despite scoring the fastest double century in ODI cricket in his previous match. There was a reason behind it.
In the first game, Gill was the highest run-scorer in the world in ODIs since his return in July last year, with 638 runs at an average of 70.88 and a strike rate of 102.57. In Guwahati too, he scored 70 runs in 60 balls in the same fashion.
The other important decision was the exclusion of Suryakumar Yadav, who has been making headlines with his T20I performances. India stuck with Shreyas Iyer, and he chipped in with an easy cameo as the team looked to score quick runs to defend against dew in the second innings.
One worry for India is that with Axar Patel at No.7 and four bowlers after him, the tail is too long. They have Washington Sundar on the bench, but the question is, who do they drop to fit him?
Even though Sri Lanka were defeated in the first ODI, there were some encouraging signs. Pathum Nissanka top-ordered with 72, Dhananjaya de Silva contributed with a 40-ball 47 and Dasun Shanaka continued his good form with an unbeaten century.
Having said that, their bowlers need to perform better if they want to keep the series alive. However, it will not be easy given the lack of experience in the bowling unit. It is also not clear whether Dilshan Madushanka will be available for Thursday’s match. The left-arm pacer had dislocated his right shoulder while fielding during the first ODI. He was sent for X-ray and MRI and the reports are awaited.
India WWLLL (Last five completed ODIs, most recent first)
In Spotlight: Umran Malik and Wanindu Hasaranga
In the absence of the famous Krishna, Umran Malik has been given the responsibility of the enforcer in the middle overs. After impressing during the T20I series, he took 3 for 57 in eight overs in the first ODI. At one point he had figures of 6-0-32-3 before Shanaka’s death. Having already improved your control, maybe it’s time to incorporate some variation.
For Sri Lanka, the focus will be on Wanindu Hasaranga. While he is one of the best spinners in T20I cricket, his ODI record is a bit underwhelming. In 35 ODIs, he has taken 39 wickets at an average of 36.51. But he is the leading wicket-taker in the team, and his team needs to build on that.
Team news: Will India remain unchanged?
Ahead of the series, Rohit said that India were not looking at cuts and changes. So expect them to go with an unchanged XI, especially after the win in the first game.
India (Probable): 1 Rohit Sharma (c), 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Shreyas Iyer, 5 KL Rahul (wk), 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Mohammed Shami, 9 Umran Malik, 10 Mohammed Siraj, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
Sri Lanka may bring in Lahiru Kumara if Madushanka is unavailable. No other changes are expected.
Sri Lanka (Probables): 1 Pathum Nissanka, 2 Avishka Fernando, 3 Kusal Mendis (wk), 4 Charit Aslanka, 5 Dhananjay de Silva, 6 Dasun Shanaka (c), 7 Wanindu Hasaranga, 8 Dunith Vellaj, 9 Chamika Karunaratne, 10 Kasun Rajitha , 11 Dilshan Madushanka/Lahiru Kumara
Pitch and Conditions: Fog at Eden Gardens?
Eden Gardens last hosted an ODI five years ago when India were all out for 252 batting first. In reply, Australia were bundled out for just 202. There is no forecast for rain, but it can be misty at times. During the day, the temperature will be around 25 °C, but can drop more than 10 °C at night.