India resume WC build-up against ‘under-cooked’ Sri Lanka
Cuttack: Their World Cup build-up halted by West Indies team’s sudden mid-series pullout, India would resume the preparations for the mega-event when they square off against under-cooked sub-continental rivals Sri Lanka in a hastily-arranged ODI series starting here tomorrow.
A series against the depleted Lankans on surfaces totally different from those on offer in Australia and New Zealand may not be the ideal launchpad but it would certainly give the reigning world champions an opportunity to test their bench strength under stand-in skipper Virat Kohli.
Regular skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been rested for the first three ODIs of the five-match series.
Having come here on SOS after the West Indies cricketers’ abrupt pull-out midway into the series last month over a pay dispute with WICB, the Sri Lankans are without their injured premier pace duo of Lasith Malinga and Suranga Lakmal, while spin aces Ajantha Mendis and Rangana Herath too will be missed.
That India A side, under Manoj Tiwary, plundered 382 runs in 50 overs with centuries from Rohit Sharma (142) and Manish Pandey (135 not out) in their 88-run win against the Lankans in the only practice match at CCI on October 30, is a pointer to the quality of the visiting team’s attack.
At a time when Kohli is looking to rediscover himself and Ajinkya Rahane competing for the opening slot against Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, the series would give plenty of opportunities to the Indian batsmen to get back among runs.
After a forgettable England tour, Kohli has been in the spotlight for the wrong reasons as he had to shuffle his position to No 4 to get back to form. It worked as he scored a 62 against the West Indies in Delhi and followed that up with a 127 at his familiar No 3 spot.
For somebody who’s seen as a future captaincy material, Kohli would be under pressure to lead the side for the first three ODIs. He will also look to keep the critics at bay.