India batsman Yuvraj Singh (L) pulls a handspring while the Sri Lankan squad engage in drills on Saturday prior to their group match at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium today. Photos: STAR
An in-form Sri Lanka side will welcome the return of their most prolific batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan when they face India in their last group match of the triangular Idea Cup at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium today.
Dilshan, currently the number one batsman in one-day cricket, has been in supreme form for the last couple of months. But he has been out of play with a groin injury since the opening match of the tournament in which he scored a hundred against Bangladesh. Sri Lanka though seemed unruffled by his injury and went on to win all the three matches to book a ticket for final.
However, his inclusion will strengthen the batting line up that has already been boosted with the return of Mahela Jayawardene who flew in from Sri Lanka and immediately scored a hundred in his first match against Bangladesh.
Today though they face a stiffer opposition in India who need a win from their last two matches to be in the final. This is going to be their 21st meeting in the past nineteen months. India hold a 12-7 edge over the islanders, but Sri Lanka do look much the stronger side in this tournament and they won their first encounter with India quite comfortably by five wickets.
Going into their second meeting, India's talented batsman Virat Kohli feels the formbook holds for little in today's context and reminded that India would have to be at their best to beat Sri Lanka.
"We have played a lot between us in the last few months. We know each other's strengths and weaknesses very well. It will be a tough match but we want to beat them."
Kohli, who has been in and out of the India side a couple of times, didn't have a great match against the Sri Lankans in the earlier meeting as he scored only nine runs. He made it up in the next match against Bangladesh scoring 91 runs and giving his captain ample support in registering an easy victory. The 21-year-old stylish batsman is confident India will win Sunday's match and ensure their final berth without having to depend on the outcome of the last group match against Bangladesh.
"We have sorted out our mistakes of the earlier game and tried to rectify those mistakes. Hopefully we will make sure of the final by winning against Sri Lanka."
But the biggest talking point of the tournament has been the impact of dew and the importance of winning the toss. All the four games played so far have been won by the team batting second under conditions which make it very hard to have control over the ball in the latter part as dew plays havoc. So, will today's match prove to be another forgone conclusion, or will the tide be turned? The neutrals will pray that the latter proves right.
SRI LANKA: Upul Tharanga, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara (captain), Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera, Thilina Kandamby, Thissara Perera, Suraj Randiv, Nuwan Kulasekara, Thilan Thushara, Malinga Bandara.
INDIA: Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni (captain), Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth.