India look to extend dominance in second Test
Nagpur: After narrowly missing out on a win in the opening Test at the Eden Gardens, a confident India will be aiming to extend their dominance over Sri Lanka when the two sides face off in the second Test here from Friday.
The hosts came agonisingly close to going 1-0 up in the three-match rubber but bad light ruined their chances to do so on the final day of the rain-marred first Test in Kolkata.
Inspired by the performance of the fast bowlers in the first Test and keeping in mind the upcoming tour of South Africa early next year, the hosts are once again set to test the Sri Lankans on a green track at the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) Stadium in Jamtha.
The Indian pace trio of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami shared all the 17 Sri Lankan wickets which fell during the first Test. But with Bhuvneshwar set to tie the knot, he was released from the squad for the remainder of the series.
Pacer Ishant Sharma, a veteran of 77 Tests, looks set to join the pace battery for the series.
The other change in the Indian XI will be at the top of the order with opener Murali Vijay joining Lokesh Rahul after Shikhar Dhawan asked for a break due to personal reasons.
Going into the second game, India will be brimming with confidence with the form of skipper Virat Kohli, whose fighting 50th international hundred in trying conditions at the Eden almost sealed the deal in the hosts' favour.
Besides Kohli, the middle order comprising Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and stumper Wriddhiman Saha also looked in good stead during the first match.
But it will be interesting to see if India persist with two spinners -- especially Ravindra Jadeja, who made very little contribution with the ball and had a lukewarm match as a batsman.
Knowing Kohli's fondness for wrist spinners, chinaman Kuldeep Yadav could come in as a replacement while rookie Vijay Shankar could also be handed his maiden Test cap.
With Hardik Pandya missing from the set-up, Shankar has a chance of fitting into the playing XI, bringing the required stability that comes with a No.6 batsman.
On the other hand, the tourists will need to revisit their strategy after conceding the advantage to the hosts, particularly after dominating for the better part of the first four days.
While they have limited options to choose from in the batting department, it would be interesting to see if the islanders persist with pacer Lahiru Gamage, who leaked 156 runs in two innings in seamer-friendly conditions.
In case, they continue to go with a three-pronged pace attack, left-arm seamer Vishwa Fernando could be an option to replace Gamage.
However, chinaman Lakshan Sandakhan could provide that X-factor if the tourists plan for an added option in the slow bowling department along side veteran Rangana Herath.
India: Virat Kohli (Captain), Lokesh Rahul, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha (WK), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Umesh, Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Vijay Shankar, Kuldeep Yadav and Rohit Sharma.
Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (Captain), Angelo Mathews, Dimuth Karunaratne, Niroshan Dickwella (WK), Dhananjaya de Silva, Suranga Lakmal, Dasun Shanaka, Viswa Fernando, Lahiru Gamage, Lakshan Sandakan, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dilruwan Perera and Roshen Silva.