Atmospheric conditions in north India have haunted Sri Lanka right through their tour of India. If it was the smog in Delhi, it was rain in Dharamsala. On Monday, they spent four hours at the airport with their chartered flight unable to take off. They returned to their hotels and only flew to Mohali on Tuesday, the eve of the third ODI.
North India, however, has been kind to Sri Lanka from a cricketing standpoint; they left Delhi with a heartening draw in the third Test, and trounced India in the first ODI in Dharamsala, ending a 12-match losing streak in the format.
India, as a result, are the team under pressure ahead of the second ODI. Questions hover over their batting, in particular, as it will for any team that stumbles to 29 for 7 in the absence of its best batsman. Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik and Manish Pandey occupied Nos. 3, 4 and 5 in Dharamsala, and between them scored 11 off 60 balls, none of them convincing with their techniques against the moving ball. India will not want to make wholesale changes after one loss in unusual conditions, but they will not have been too impressed with what they saw of their upper middle order.
For Sri Lanka, meanwhile, this is a chance to end an otherwise miserable year in 50-overs cricket on a high. At various points during this tour, they have shown sparks of the team they could become if their talent is harnessed right; a win in Mohali could accelerate that process.
India: LWWLW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka: WLLLL
In the spotlight
Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah beat the bat numerous times in Dharamsala, but only had two slightly expensive wickets (and one chalked off for a no-ball) to show for it as they strained to defend a hugely below-par 112. Given more typical circumstances, they are among the best new-ball and late-overs pairs in ODI cricket, and their contest against Sri Lanka’s top order could determine the course of the second ODI.
His medium-paced offcutters weren’t required in Dharamsala, and a small target meant his batting wasn’t called for either, but Sri Lanka would have been pleased that Asela Gunaratne was back on the field after four-and-a-half months out injured. Gunaratne has been one of their brightest performers in recent seasons – as four trophies at SLC’s recent annual awards would suggest – and they will hope the long break hasn’t done his rhythm any harm.
India aren’t known to make too many changes after one defeat, but the solidity of Ajinkya Rahane could be an option if they were to relax their policy of playing him as an opener or not at all. The fingerspin of Axar Patel could also come into consideration – possibly at Kuldeep Yadav’s expense – if they want to strengthen their lower order.
India: 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Shreyas Iyer, 4 Dinesh Karthik, 5 Manish Pandey, 6 MS Dhoni (wk), 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Axar Patel/Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal.
Lahiru Thirimanne’s horror tour continued with a duck in Dharamsala. Sri Lanka have plenty of options to take his place if they decide to leave him out, with Kusal Perera, Sadeera Samarawickrama and – if fit – Dhananjaya de Silva all in contention.
Sri Lanka: 1 Danushka Gunathilaka, 2 Upul Tharanga, 3 Lahiru Thirimanne/Kusal Perera/Sadeera Samarawickrama/Dhananjaya de Silva, 4 Angelo Mathews, 5 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 6 Asela Gunaratne, 7 Thisara Perera (capt), 8 Sachith Pathirana, 9 Suranga Lakmal, 10 Akila Dananjaya, 11 Nuwan Pradeep.
Pitch and conditions
Mohali seldom plays true to what is now an outdated reputation for pace and bounce, but it is still the north Indian winter, with maximum temperatures in the high teens or low twenties, and there has been some rain about in the lead-up to the match, so fast bowlers can expect a certain amount of help.
Last year, the seamers took eight out of 13 wickets in an ODI against New Zealand in which an unbeaten 154 from Virat Kohli and an 80 from Dhoni helped India chase down 286.
Stats and trivia
Mohali has hosted more ODIs – 23 – than any other Indian ground since its debut in November 1993.
Upul Tharanga is returning to Mohali 11 years after his only match there. In that game, he scored 105 in a Sri Lanka win against Bangladesh in the 2006 Champions Trophy.
Angelo Mathews needs 63 runs to become the tenth Sri Lankan batsman to 5000 in ODIs. Niroshan Dickwella, meanwhile, is 21 short of 1000 ODI runs.
“I didn’t feel like I was a very new part of the team. I knew a lot of players, Mahi bhai [Dhoni] was here, I played with him in the last IPL, they made me feel part of them, I am feeling really good.”
Eighteen-year-old allrounder Washington Sundar on being the new face in the India squad