Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sehwag ruled out as India bat

Virender Sehwag was ruled out of the opening match after twisting his ankle in practice.

India chose to bat v Sri Lanka

On a two-faced pitch - grassy areas punctuated with bare dry patches - India won the toss and chose to bat in Dambulla in the first of the five-match series.

India suffered a major jolt ahead of the game: Virender Sehwag was ruled out - the rumour is he might not be available for the next match as well - after he twisted his ankle in practice. Virat Kohli, India's Under-19 captain and an aggressive batsman, was named as the replacement and was slotted to open.

Both teams went in with a double-spin attack. While Sri Lanka have gone with the same eleven that won them the Asia Cup, India have brought in Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh and Munaf Patel. Pragyan Ojha, who didn't allow the rampaging Sanath Jayasuriya to punish him in that Asia Cup final, got another game.

It will be interesting to see how the pitch behaves. Even Mahela Jayawardene said at the toss that he would have batted had the luck of the coin gone his way. Traditionally, both spinners and the seamers have done well here - spinners have taken 139 wickets at an average of 24.05 and the seamers have grabbed 178 wickets at 26.96. Interestingly, there has been only one international hundred on this track, scored by Rahul Dravid.

While the Indian team's problems against M&M have been well documented, Sri Lanka have had their share of middle-order muddles . In the last year, Tillekaratne Dilshan, Chamara Silva, Chamara Kapugedera and Farveez Maharoof have had their moments under the sun but none have achieved any consistency.

In recent times, the Indian limited-overs team have fallen from the highs of the winning the Twenty20 World Cup and the CB series and had reverses in the Kitply Cup final and the Asia Cup. If you are a Sri Lankan fan, history has some good news for you. Sri Lanka have won 13 out of the 18 ODIs played at the Dambulla stadium while India have lost all three games against the hosts here.

Sri Lanka 1Sanath Jayasuriya, 2 Kumar Sangakkara, 3 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 4 Chamara Kapugedera, 5 Chamara Silva, 6 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 7Chaminda Vaas, 8 Nuwan Kulasekara, 9 Thilan Thushara, 10 Ajantha Mendis,11 Muttiah Muralitharan.

India 1 Gautam Gambhir, 2 Virat Kohli, 3 Yuvraj Singh, 4 Suresh Raina, 5 Rohit Sharma, 6 Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), 7 Irfan Pathan, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Zaheer Khan, 10 Pragyan Ojha 11 Munaf Patel