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Rahane's form a worry as India aim another clean sweep vs SL

Last updated on: December 09, 2017 19:34 IST

Ajinkya Rahane

IMAGE: Stand-in captain Rohit Sharma will be to look at various combinations in both departments against Sri Lanka. Photograph: PTI

A horribly out-of-form Ajinkya Rahane will be aiming to get his mojo back as India, formidable even without regular skipper Virat Kohli, eye another 'Whitewash' against Sri Lanka in the three-match ODI series, starting on Sunday.

 

From the polluted 'Gas Chamber' of National Capital, the action has now shifted to the most scenic cricket stadium in the country in the backdrop of the pristine Dhauladhar Range.

The primary objective for chief coach Ravi Shastri and stand-in captain Rohit Sharma will be to look at various combinations in both departments against an out-of-sorts team.

With the match starting at 11:30 am in cooler confines and bouncy conditions, the toss could prove to be a crucial factor during the opening ODI.

Having won five straight bilateral series apart from reaching Champions Trophy final, a 3-0 win will put India on top of ICC ODI rankings, overtaking South Africa.

MS Dhoni

IMAGE: Mahendra Singh Dhoni with coach Ravi Shastri. Photograph: PTI

Even without their inspirational skipper, a batting line-up comprising Rohit, Rahane, Dinesh Karthik, Mahendra Singh Dhoni could prove to be a handful for any opposition.

While the opening slot seems locked with Rohit and Dhawan at the top, Rahane is likely to get a chance at the number three position with Kohli given a much-needed rest.

However if Dhawan, who was down with viral fever on Friday, pulls out then Rahane could be seen opening the innings.

The stylish Mumbai batsman had scored three half-centuries and a hundred in the bilaterals against West Indies in June-July, before blasting four successive fifties against Australia at home.

The only ODI game that he played against Sri Lanka this year, Rahane scored just 5 before stumbling upon a rough patch in the Test series against Sri Lanka.

With the South Africa Test series round the corner, the team management would certainly want their favourite 'Jinks' to break the jinx.

Dinesh Karthik and Mahendra Singh Dhoni is likely to take the next two slots.

While Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey are also in the team, the duo will get a look-in if both Dhawan and Kedar Jadhav, who has a hamstring injury, are ruled out.

There was some bad news as Jadhav has been ruled out of the series due to hamstring injury. Tamil Nadu youngster MS Washington Sundar has been summoned as Jadhav's replacement.

All-rounder Hardik Pandya will continue to be a vital cog in India's wheel as he completes what has been an exception year in international cricket for him.

One among orthodox leg-break bowler Yuzvendra Chahal and chinaman Kuldeep Yadav will be in the playing XI along with Axar Patel, whose primary job is to restrict runs.

Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar will spearhead the pace department and the visitors will have a tough time dealing with them in the opening as well as at death overs.

Sri Lanka

IMAGE: Sri Lanka have shown the stomach for a fight. Photograph: PTI

Among others, it will be interesting to see if skipper Rohit decides to give rookie Siddarth Kaul a chance as a third pacer at the HPCA Stadium, which is expected to aid swing bowling.

Sri Lanka have shown the stomach for a fight in the Delhi Test after barely managing to save the first Test in Kolkata and losing the second at Nagpur and they would be eager to erase the ignominy of losing 0-5 at home in September.

The visitors were also humiliated 0-5 by Pakistan in their last bilateral series in October and it will take really a special effort from Thisara Perera's men to tame India at their own backyard.

Teams: India: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni (WK), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddarth Kaul.

Sri Lanka: Thisara Perera (capt), Upul Tharanga, Danushka Gunathilaka, Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews, Asela Gunaratne, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Chaturanga de Silva, Akila Dananjaya, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dushmantha Chameera, Sachith Pathirana, Kusal Perera.

Match starts at 11:30 am

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