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Upbeat India aim to maintain stranglehold over Sri Lanka

November 05, 2014 16:54 IST

India captain Virat Kohli speaks to Ravi Shastri. Photograph: PTI

After starting the series with a crushing victory, an upbeat India will aim to maintain their stranglehold over an under-prepared Sri Lanka when they meet in the second ODI in Motera on Thursday.

Needless to say that India will be starting as overwhelming favourites at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera, having walloped the opponents by 169 runs in the opening match. 

India went into the series opener with their confidence boosted by back-to-back victories over West Indies at Delhi and Dharamsala, after a shock loss at Kochi in the series opener. 

Coming on as last-minute substitutes after West Indies pulled out of the series due to a payment dispute with their Board, nothing went right for the islanders, who had to leave behind their fitness training programme at home to get ready for this tour, in the Cuttack opener.

The Sri Lankan team takes to the field. Photograph: BCCI

The Lankan bowlers allowed the Indian openers – Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan - to put on a double century (231 run) stand, which also happened to be the third best for the country for the first wicket and was the platform for the tall Indian total. 

A dropped catch reprieved the left-handed Dhawan early on and after India raked up an imposing 363 for 5, built mainly on the stroke-filled, individual hundreds from the two openers, the Lankan batting caved in meekly on a low bouncing wicket. 

For Lanka to make a match of it tomorrow it's imperative they restrict the rampaging Indian batting line-up from running up another big total if the hosts bat first. It's in bowling that Lanka appear the weaker side especially without the services of slinger Lasith Malinga and left-arm spinner Rangana Herath who are not with the touring party.

The Lanka batting-order has vast experience in the big three – Tilakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene – apart from Upul Tharanga, but a few of these batsmen have to fire big in unison to match the Indian batting might.

India's openers Shikhar Dhawan (left) and Ajinkya Rahane. Photograph: BCCI

India have fewer problems facing them in familiar home conditions. Rahane and Dhawan laid the perfect platform for the big total in the first game and with Suresh Raina, batting up the order, and skipper Virat Kohli to follow behind, the home team sports a formidable top order. 

Dhawan, incidentally, is 124 short of completing 2000 runs in this format. In the absence of rested regular skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Indian lower order does not possess the same firepower. 

It's here that Lankans' slender hopes lie – of dismissing the top four without allowing for too many runs to be put on the board and then getting a chance to nip steadily at the lower-order. 

The hosts' pace bowling attack has seen a change following the leg injury sustained by Varun Aaron at Cuttack in his fifth over which he could not complete. Aaron has been declared unfit for tomorrow's game and the one after that on November 9 and has been replaced by Karnataka all rounder Stuart Binny.

The Indian team celebrates the fall of a Sri Lankan wicket. Photograph: BCCI

Mumbai's Dhawal Kulkarni is also an option for the think tank as the third seam bowler but Stuart Binny with better batting credentials is also in with a chance. 

Lankan batsmen struggled against Axar Patel, but the inexperienced left-arm spinner – included in place of Ravindra Jadeja --can expect a better battle from the likes of veteran batsmen Sangakkara and Jayawardene.  

Ravichandran Ashwin, though not looking at his best, would be his foil with part-timer Raina also expected to chip in if needed. India lost the last ODI game they played at this ground, against the West Indies by 16 runs nearly three years ago after tripping then reigning champions Australia in the World
Cup quarter finals in March, 2011, at this venue on way to the coveted title.

Otherwise, India don't have an enviable record at this ground, having won only 6 out of 14 encounters they had figured in at the Motera Stadium, which should encourage the visitors. India did not feature in the other 9 matches held at this ground. This ground is generally sports an easy paced track and things are expected to continue in this respect for this game too.