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India grappling with selection dilemmas

Last updated on: August 2, 2010 13:53 IST
Indian team players walk back after a practice session

Their top ranking may not be at stake but injury-hit India are grappling with selection dilemmas as they go into the third and final cricket Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo on Tuesday, hoping to avoid a series defeat.

Trailing 0-1, India cannot settle for anything but an outright victory to square the series.

Although they don't have to worry about their top position in the ICC rankings, the Indians do have a few selection dilemmas to deal with on the eve of the match at the P Sara Oval.

Dhoni remains non-commital over Raina's inclusion

Last updated on: August 2, 2010 13:53 IST
MS Dhoni with Gary Kirsten

With Suresh Raina scoring a century on debut in the drawn second Test, the place of an off-colour Yuvraj Singh, who was down with flu, is uncertain for the series finale.

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was non-committal on which of the two would make the playing eleven and it remains to be seen whether Yuvraj's past reputation can score over Raina's red-hot current form in the final consideration.

Another Indian concern is opener Gautam Gambhir, who was nursing inflammation in his knee, which forced him to sit out the second Test.

Although he was seen practicing in the nets but whether he is fit enough to make the team is not yet known.

Sachin to become most-capped player

Last updated on: August 2, 2010 13:53 IST
Sachin Tendulkar during a practice session

Veteran Sachin Tendulkar, who is set to surpass Steve Waugh's record of being the most capped player in Test cricket.

But the 37-year-old iconic right-hander, who scored a fifth career double hundred in the second Test, also practiced in the nets, an indication that he would be padding in his record 169th Test.

Tendulkar, who has been around for two decades now, has also played 442 one-day internationals, just a couple of matches less than Sri Lankan Sanath Jayasuriya's record of 444.

Bowling continues to be the worry

Last updated on: August 2, 2010 13:53 IST
Ishant Sharma bowls in the nets

Apart from these minor injury concerns, batting form is hardly an issue for the Indians, who piled up a whopping 707 runs in the first innings of the second Test in reply to Sri Lanka's 642.

Virender Sehwag was his usual explosive self, providing the start for others to build on in the intimidating line-up that also has the stylish VVS Laxman.

Bowling, however, is a headache for the Indians with the pace department desperately missing the services of Zaheer Khan and S Sreesanth, who were ruled out due to injury.

Ishant Sharma impressed briefly in the second Test but has been off-colour for most of the series and though the young Abhimanyu Mithun has given it his all, the placid pitch here didn't help his confidence much in the second Test.

Spin spearhead Harbhajan Singh, too, also failed to work his magic.

Sporting wicket for the series decider

Last updated on: August 2, 2010 13:53 IST
Rahul Dravid talks to curators

The lifeless track at the Sinhalese Sports Club ground, which produced over 1500 runs over five days, was later lambasted by both Dhoni and his opposite number Kumar Sangakkara.

Dhoni even went to the extent of saying that he would preferred wrapping up the proceedings by the fourth day itself on such no-result wicket.

The curator has promised a sporting pitch for the series decider and the Lankans would be relishing that prospect given the variety they have in the bowling department.

Malinga to return for final Test

Last updated on: August 2, 2010 13:53 IST
Lasith Malinga bowls in nets

Like India, the Lankans don't have batting issues to worry about as top willow-wielders like Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, the upcoming Tharanga Parnavitana and the destructive Tillakaratne Dilshan are in fine form.

But unlike India, the hosts have a decent bowling attack despite missing the spin wizardary of the now-retired Muttiah Muralitharan.

They were without the lethal Lasith Malinga in the second Test due to injury but the in-form pacer is expected to back in the side.

His comeback is expected to boost the confidence of other bowlers -- Ajantha Mendies, Rangana Herath, Dilhara Fernando and Suraj Randiv -- as well who took a beating in the second Test.

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