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Rampaging India eye ODI series clean sweep

September 02, 2017 19:37 IST

It remains to be seen if reserve opener Ajinkya Rahane, the only player not to get a game in this series, would be included in place of Rohit Sharma or Shikhar Dhawan.

Team India

IMAGE: India's players celebrate a wicket during the fourth ODI. Photograph: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters

A rampaging India will fancy their chances of completing a 5-0 whitewash of Sri Lanka when they face the beleaguered hosts in the fifth and final One-day International match, in Colombo, on Sunday.

The visitors whitewashed Sri Lanka 3-0 in the Test series, and given their dominant run on this trip, would like to complete a double by sweeping the ODI series as well.


Sri Lanka are in danger of losing a second successive ODI series to India by a 5-0 margin. The last time these two sides played a bilateral series in November 2014, a depleted Lankan side lost 5-0 in India.

Their fortunes haven't changed much since and another loss would be a serious body blow for the hosts in what has been a traumatic summer of cricket. They have already foregone the opportunity to automatically qualify for the 2019 ODI World Cup by failing to win two matches in this series.

India have no injury concerns and the same playing combination can expect to be retained on Sunday, with the likes of Manish Pandey, Kuldeep Yadav and Shardul Thakur given a further opportunity to impress.

Additionally, coach Ravi Shastri had spoken on Friday about the need to carefully manage workloads of bowlers across formats. It remains to be seen if Hardik Pandya will be given a break in this light, and Kedar Jadhav afforded another chance to impress, ahead of a long limited-overs' schedule at home.

Ajinkya Rahane

IMAGE: Ajinkya Rahane hits out. Photograph: Cricket West Indies

In light of the team's experimentation and rotation policy, Ajinkya Rahane is the only batsman not to get a game time in this series. With Rohit Sharma coming back and scoring runs, and Shikhar Dhawan in good form, the team management has so far not toyed with the opening combination.

Rahane, on the other hand, had won the man-of-the-series in the last ODI series in the West Indies with 336 runs from five matches including a hundred and three half-centuries.

There is a chance that he could be given a game ahead of Dhawan in this final ODI, even if only to cement his spot as the designated third-choice opener.

This also puts the spotlight on KL Rahul who was given a middle-order role in the current ODI series, specifically keeping the preparation for the next World Cup in mind but so far that experiment hasn't worked with Rahul returning scores of 4, 17 and 7 in his three outings.

Oddly enough, Rahul has fallen to mystery spinner Akila Dananjay in all three matches. While it will be a matter of concern for the team management, they will also want to afford him further opportunities to strengthen the case for a middle-order berth. Manish Pandey's half-century in the fourth ODI gives the team additional leeway in this regard.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka are expected to make at least one change to their playing eleven. Skipper Upul Tharanga will be back in charge of affairs after sitting out the last two games owing to his suspension for slow-over rate. He is expected to slot into the middle order once again and Lahiru Thirimanne might be asked to open the innings instead.

It remains to be seen if the Lankan captain can inspire a serious challenge in this fifth ODI after a lacklustre summer. Most of all though, after two suspensions in three months, Tharanga will be looking to complete the 50 overs within the stipulated time.


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: Upul Tharanga (captain), Lasith Malinga, 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.

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