Big picture – India might rotate players
Two weeks ago in Bengaluru, India’s Asia Cup-bound squad had exhaustive fitness tests to check their levels of preparedness for the cricket coming up over the next three months.
Coming into the tournament, India had several questions to answer.
That wasn’t it. He kept for all but the first few overs of Pakistan’s innings to dismiss any concerns there may have been.
On Tuesday, India may want to try and answer a couple more questions. How about giving Suryakumar Yadav some action? Is Iyer fit enough to slot back in? Can India look to rest one or more of their frontline fast bowlers and give Mohammed Shami and Prasidh Krishna some game time?
It wasn’t quite a complete performance against Bangladesh, but the bowlers held firm at different times under pressure to bail the side out. On Tuesday, Sri Lanka face a rampant batting line-up that will give them more cues on where they stand as a bowling group with bigger battles coming up.
Not to forget, Sri Lanka are now on a streak of 13 men’s ODI wins in a row, second only to Australia’s 21 in 2003… can they take it to 14?
Sri Lanka WWWWW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
In March 2021, around the time he was in line for the ODI vice-captaincy, Iyer was out for six months with a shoulder injury. By the time he returned, he had not just lost that opportunity but also his IPL captaincy to Rishabh Pant at Delhi Capitals. Earlier this year, a back injury that needed surgery put his World Cup dreams in doubt. But he recovered within six months. But one game in, he has been laid low again, this time by back spasms. Is he ready? Can he pull up well and prove his fitness in a proper match environment?
India may want to give a chance to some of their reserves. This could bring Suryakumar and Shami into the mix. It isn’t clear yet if Iyer will be fit to return. Sri Lanka may not want to fix something that isn’t broken given they are already without several first-choice bowlers following injuries.
India (probable XI): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 KL Rahul (wk), 5 Suryakumar Yadav/Ishan Kishan, 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Ravindra Jadeja/Axar Patel, 8 Shardul Thakur, 9 Mohammed Shami, 10 Prasidh Krishna, 11 Mohammed Siraj
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Pathum Nissanka, 2 Dimuth Karunaratne, 3 Kusal Mendis (wk), 4 Sadeera Samarawickrama, 5 Charith Asalanka, 6 Dhananjaya de Silva, 7 Dasun Shanaka (capt), 8 Dunith Wellalage, 9 Maheesh Theekshana, 10 Kasun Rajitha, 11 Matheesha Pathirana
Pitch and conditions
It is expected to remain sultry, with humidity likely to be a massive factor. Evening showers are forecast, although if there’s one thing we have found out over the past week, it’s futile trying to predict weather patterns. It isn’t clear yet if a fresh surface will be used for this match. Either way, given the pitch will be fully covered until about noon – rain or no rain – there could be some moisture for the fast bowlers to try and exploit first up, before conditions spice up for them under lights.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo