Indians eye series win at fortress Visakhapatnam
Visakhapatnam: An imposing line-up and an impeccable record in this port city make India the clear favourites as they seek to clinch another series win against Sri Lanka in the third and final One-day International on Sunday.
India have not lost a series at home since the defeat to South Africa in October 2015.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, are seeking to win their first ever bilateral series in India, having lost eight and drawn one.
Skipper Rohit Sharma led the fightback for India in Mohali with a superb double century, his third in ODIs after the team had been outplayed in the series opener in Dharamsala. Sharma and his men will look to ride the momentum after a big win in the second game and seal the series at the ACA-VDCA stadium.
The Indian team has lost only once at the venue in the seven games played here (with one being washed out) and will hope to keep winning on what has generally been a high-scoring ground.
Defeat in Dharamsala meant India can't overtake South Africa in the ICC ODI rankings but a series win is at stake.
Rohit & Co will look to maintain supremacy over the visiting Lankans, having won the Test series earlier.
The India captain will look to continue the good work and domination of the Lankan attack while the other batsmen will also hope to be among runs. After being shot out for 112 in Dharamshala, the host batting line-up regained its mojo as Rohit led from the front.
With Shikhar Dhawan chipping in with a half-century and the young Shreyas Iyer announcing himself on the big stage with a knock of 88 in the second ODI, the Indian batting seems to be back in form and would be expected to supply the runs in the series decider.
The top-order's performance could prove crucial for the home team if it has to continue its dominance.
Also, the middle-order comprising Dinesh Karthik and Manish Pandey will love to be among the runs as would Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Hardik Pandya. It also looks like Ajinkya Rahane would remain on the sidelines unless the think-tank opts to pick him ahead of either Pandey or Karthik.
The bowlers have looked the part so far and will aim to continue the good work on what is likely to be a batsman- friendly wicket, going by the records.
And, the importance of bowling well in the first 10 overs can't be overemphasised and the lead bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah would be well aware of this as would Lanka's spearhead Suranga Lakmal.
The visitors, buoyed by news about the availability of ace all-rounder Angelo Mathews for the crucial game, will be give it their all to snatch a much-needed series win, in what has been a tough year for them.
Mathews scored a ton, albeit in a losing cause in Mohali and will be the lynchpin of the batting unit, which is short on experience, as the squad aims to secure a rare series win in India.
The Lankans were brought crashing down to earth after a good win at Dharamsala as Rohit went on the rampage and their batsmen capitulated under the pressure of chasing a mammoth score. Mathews' return to form must be heartening news for them as is the fact that he is bowling some overs, and with a degree of success too.
Upul Tharanga, among the more experienced batsmen in the line-up, needs to step up and make a bigger contribution to the team's cause. The other batters including Lahiru Thirimanne, Danusha Gunathilaka and Niroshan Dickwella, have been inconsistent and will have to find ways to make sizeable scores.
The bowers, on the other hand, will look to recover quickly from the horror show as Rohit turned on the heat.
Nuwan Pradeep, who was taken for 106 in 10 overs, will look for redemption if he retains his place in the XI while Suranga Lakmal, the hero of the win at Dharamsala, holds the key for Lanka.
Spinners of both teams haven't had a great time in the ODIs and could be under pressure to keep the runs down in Visakhapatnam, where big scores have been the norm.
While India are unlikely to tinker with the XI that won in Mohali, the visiting side may consider bringing the pacy Dushmantha Chameera in place of Pradeep.