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Dhoni set for 300 as India aim to continue winning run

August 30, 2017 15:34 IST

Considered one of the greatest finishers in 50-overs cricket, Dhoni will join India's elite 'Club 300', which has Sachin Tendulkar (463), Rahul Dravid (344), Mohammed Azharuddin (334), Sourav Ganguly (311) and Yuvraj Singh (304).

Mahendra Singh Dhoni

IMAGE: Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Photograph: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters

Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be cynosure of all eyes as he gears up for his 300th ODI with a marauding India ready to tighten the noose around beleaguered Sri Lanka in the penultimate encounter of the five-match series, in Colombo, on Thursday.

This will be a good opportunity for the former India captain to come up with a memorable performance in his landmark game since Sri Lanka have hardly posed any sort of challenge in the lop-sided series.

 

Considered one of the greatest finishers in 50-overs cricket, Dhoni will join India's elite 'Club 300', which has Sachin Tendulkar (463), Rahul Dravid (344), Mohammed Azharuddin (334), Sourav Ganguly (311) and Yuvraj Singh (304).

TABLE: India's 300 club in ODIs

Player Matches Runs
Sachin Tendulkar  463 18426
Rahul Dravid 344 10889
Mohammad Azharuddin 334 9378
Sourav Ganguly 311 11363
Yuvraj Singh 304 8701
Mahendra Singh Dhoni 299 9608

Dhoni has been in good form in the series, having played a significant role in bailing out the team in back-to-back tricky chases following top order batting collapses.

The unbeaten knocks of 45 and 67 under pressure is a proof that he is still not finished and his eyes are firmly set on the 50-over World Cup in 2019.

From being a world class finisher to playing a second fiddle to Rohit Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Dhoni has added another dimension to his game.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni

IMAGE: Mahendra Singh Dhoni runs between the wickets. Photograph: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters

Although one can't dismiss the fact that a rag-tag Sri Lankan bowling attack, save mystery spinner Akila Dananjaya, has failed to keep up the pressure on Dhoni and Co. after making initial inroads in the second and third ODIs.

The series already sealed with an unassailable 3-0 lead, captain Virat Kohli's next aim would be to give a chance to players who have only warmed the benches so far such as Kuldeep Yadav, Manish Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane and Shardul Thakur.

Kohli himself had a couple of low scoring games and he would look to get back to scoring some more runs along with KL Rahul, who has not exactly looked comfortable in an unfamiliar No. 4 position.

The only man who would feel a bit of pressure is Kedar Jadhav after successive ducks. More than the two blobs, what will bother the Jadhav is the fact that he has been unable to read Dananjaya's deliveries.

In the first match, he was fooled by a googly and in the second match, he misread the length, trying to go for a sweep shot.

It will be interesting if the team management decides to give Pandey a go instead of Jadhav. The only thing that can save him is his flat off-breaks, which gives Kohli an additional bowling option, having picked up three wickets in the series so far.

Kuldeep Yadav

IMAGE: Kuldeep Yadav bowls during a practice session. Photograph: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters

Pacer Thakur has looked sharp in the nets but Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah and one of them could be given a break for the fourth ODI.

The India captain has already hinted that he wants to rotate players and chinaman spinner Kuldeep may also get a look-in, in place of either Yuzvendra Chahal or Axar Patel.

While India have some happy problems to deal with, Sri Lanka are in deep trouble, trying to field a potent playing eleven.

To begin with, Sri Lanka's entire five-man selection panel will step down en masse after the current limited overs series against India following protests over the team's slump in form.

The panel, led by former captain Sanath Jayasuriya, came under pressure after Sri Lanka were beaten 3-0 in the home test series against India and it intensified when the tourists took an unassailable 3-0 lead in the ongoing five-match ODI series.

Irate fans have staged protests over the team's poor form and some of them hurled water bottles to hold up play in Sunday's ODI against India at Pallekele.

Lack of consistency has been a key element of this Jayasuriya-led committee's selection process. They have picked 40 players in ODIs in the past year alone, and the same merry-go-round can be foreseen ahead of this fourth match as well.

Dinesh Chandimal has been ruled out of the series with a hairline fracture on his right thumb after enduring a hit in the previous ODI.

To add to their headache, stand-in skipper Chamara Kapugedara has been ruled out of the remainder of the series as well, owing to an aggravated back injury, which means veteran Lasith Malinga will lead the side in the fourth ODI, with suspended captain Upul Tharanga expected to handle the reins in the final ODI on September 3 as well as the solitary T20I on September 6.

Dhananjaya de Silva and Dilshan Munaweera have been added to the squad as covers. They also have Thisara Perera and Wanindu Hasaranga on the bench. Whether the back-to-the-wall, volatile situation inspires a fightback for Sri Lanka remains to be seen though.

Teams:

India: Virat Kohli (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane, Kedar Jadhav, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (w/k), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shardul Thakur.

Sri Lanka: Lasith Malinga (captain), Dhananjaya de Silva, Dilshan Munaweera, Lahiru Thirimanna, Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella (w/k), Kusal Mendis, Milinda Siriwardana, Malinda Pushpakumara, Akila Dananjaya, Lakshan Sandakan, Thisara Perera, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dushmantha Chameera, Vishwa Fernando.

Match starts at: 2.30pm IST.

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