With a depleted Indian side at his disposal, Mahendra Singh Dhoni decided to bowl at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium purely "out of compulsion", desperate to make amends after an eight-wicket drubbing at the same venue on Monday. The paucity of specialist openers, with Gautam Gambhir sitting out with a stiff neck, prompted Dhoni's decision despite the pitch being expected to aid the batsmen a lot better than the first match.
India made two changes to the line-up, bringing in the allrounder Praveen Kumar in place of Pragyan Ojha, the left-arm spinner, but the more notable inclusion was that of S Badrinath, the Tamil Nadu middle-order batsman and captain. Badrinath has been in the fringes of national selection for a few years now and was drafted into the squad following an injury to Sachin Tendulkar. At 27, age may not be on his side but the runs certainly are. He averages over 56 in first-class games and has shown enough prowess in the shorter formats, with a strike-rate of 147 in 16 Indian Premier League matches for the Chennai Super Kings.
Gambhir's absence means Irfan Pathan will open the batting with Virat Kohli, India's 12th opening combination since January 2007. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, made just the one change, bringing in Dilhara Fernando in place of Chaminda Vaas, who pulled his left hamstring. Vaas will have to wait at least one more game to join the 400-wicket club.
Sri Lanka (from) 1 Sanath Jayasuriya, 2 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 3 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 4 Chamara Kapugedera, 5 Chamara Silva, 6 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 7 Nuwan Kulasekara, 8 Thilan Thushara, 9 Dilhara Fernando, 10 Ajantha Mendis, 11 Muttiah Muralitharan
India (from) 1 Virat Kohli, 2 Irfan Pathan, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt & wk), 6 Rohit Sharma, 7 S Badrinath, 8 Praveen Kumar, 9 Harbhajan Singh, 10 Zaheer Khan, 11 Munaf Patel.