You know the history between the two teams of late. India’s batsmen will be looking to avenge the humiliation they suffered at the hands of Mendis in last years tour.
A lot of unfamiliar names, especially and expectedly in the Sri Lankan side, so here’s a quick reckoner to who you can pick in your team.
Thilana Samaraweera: In the form of his life, not even a bullet to his thigh could stop him from plundering runs in the test format. He had a bad time on Sri Lanka’s last tour here but now is the time to make amends.
Tilakaratne Dilshan: Everything he has touched in the past year has turned to gold flown over the boundary. He excelled in his role as makeshift opener and looks good to continue in the same vein in the tests if his form against the Indian attack in the Compaq Cup was anything to go by.
MS Dhoni: Not the best keeper in the series but worth his place with the bat alone.
Harbhajan Singh: Harbhajan’s bowling has become very unreliable but his batting in tests has improved vastly in the past year.
Zaheer Khan: Zaheer’s presence will make a huge difference as he is easily the best bowler India have by a distance. Add to that the lower order partnerships he has stitched over the past year in the company of Harbhajan and you will see why he is so crucial.
Rangana Herath: He is being tipped to be in the line up for the first test ahead of Ajantha Mendis. He had a brilliant series against Pakistan and was the highest wicket taker in the series.
Thilina Kandamby: Gave the bowlers a hard time over the past year with his brutal hitting while he stabilized Sri Lanka’s middle order. Deserved a chance in the test team but his spot as a starter in the line up is doubtful. Celebrated his selection with a ton in the domestic circuit, he’s in top form. Might be promoted to open alongside Dilshan.
Tharanga Paranavitana: Unless Sangakkara takes the extreme decision of throwing in Kandamby as an opener in his place, he is safe. He has had an inconsistent run over the past year, crucial knocks alternating with wasted starts and abject failures. He is at best a buy to cushion your other larger purchases.
VVS Laxman: A budget buy, he has also played brilliantly against teams that are not Australia. Under-rated even in fantasy cricket, he is a big farm of points.
Angelo Mathews:He has become a vital part of Sri Lanka’s unit in a very short time. He brings a crucial all round balance to the side and is a sure starter.
Nuwan Kulasekara: A vastly improved bowler but his performances have mostly been either at home or against weaker opposition. He has also developed his skills with the bat, enough to put up a frustrating fight.
Besides these players there are the big names like Tendulkar, Gambhir, Sehwag, Sangakkara, Mahela, Mendis and Muralitharan who are expected to dominate the series but the valuation of these players is such that they become too big a burden on your team if they don’t perform.
Sehwag and Yuvraj might be good purchases as both are likely to bowl and fetch the odd wicket on the flat pitches the tests will be played on. Players like Dammika Prasad could get a match, he had been crucial in Sri Lanka’s winning the decisive match of the 2008 series.
Sreesanth is back in the team thanks largely to the non performance of others and the myopia of selectors. He is likely to play all the matches and may yet spring a surprise.
Most Likely Starting XIs:
India: Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni (capt/wk), Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Sreesanth.
Sri Lanka: Tharanga Paranavitana, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara (capt), Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera, Angelo Mathews/ Thilina Kandamby, Prasanna Jayawardene (wk), Nuwan Kulasekera, Thilana Thushara/ Dammika Prasad, Rangana Herath/Ajantha Mendis, Muttiah Muralitharan.