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India look to fine-tune combination as Sri Lanka hunt for consolation win

Big picture – Why dead rubbers still matter

In 26 attempts across formats, Sri Lanka have never won a bilateral series in India. If you look at it through that lens, Sunday’s ODI in Thiruvananthapuram is inconsequential, with India having already taken an unassailable 2-0 lead. However, in a World Cup year, the teams would like to utilise every opportunity they get.  

India will be looking to fine-tune their strategy and XI. Should their top three continue playing the aggressive brand of cricket they have adopted so far in this series? Who among the two wristspinners – Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav – is their preferred option? Is Umran Malik ready for the big stage?
Sri Lanka, perhaps, are still in search of a couple of pieces to complete their jigsaw. Pathum Nissanka scored 72 in the first ODI but missed the next one because of back stiffness. In his absence, debutant Nuwanidu Fernando scored a fifty to put his case forward. If Nissanka is available for the third ODI, whom do Sri Lanka leave out? It’s a headache they won’t mind.

Form guide

India WWWLL (last five completed ODIs, most recent first)
Sri Lanka LLWLL

In the spotlight – Mohammed Siraj and Kusal Mendis

Mohammed Shami might be the leader of India’s pace attack at the moment, but Mohammed Siraj has had a bigger impact in this series, picking up five wickets at 12.00, with an economy rate of 4.73. He also seems to have grown more aware of his own strengths. In the second ODI, with the new ball not swinging, he switched to bowling wobble-seam and castled Avishka Fernando with a nip-backer to give India an early breakthrough.
Kusal Mendis is by far the most experienced batter in this Sri Lanka line-up. He played some handy knocks during the T20I series, and looked good in the second ODI as well before being dismissed for a run-a-ball 34. If Sri Lanka are to challenge India, Mendis will have to bat longer.

Team news – Will Chahal return?

Chahal missed the second ODI with a sore right shoulder. If he is available for Sunday’s game, it will be interesting to see if Kuldeep Yadav once again misses out after a Player-of-the-Match performance.
India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Shreyas Iyer, 5 KL Rahul (wk), 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Kuldeep Yadav, 9 Mohammed Shami, 10 Umran Malik, 11 Mohammed Siraj.
It will not be easy to keep out Nuwanidu after his composed half-century at the top of the order in the previous game. Given that he bats in the middle order in domestic cricket, Charith Asalanka may have to miss out if Nissanka is available.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Pathum Nissanka, 2 Avishka Fernando, 3 Kusal Mendis (wk), 4 Nuwanidu Fernando/Charith Asalanka, 5 Dhananjaya de Silva, 6 Dasun Shanaka (capt), 7 Wanindu Hasaranga, 8 Dunith Wellalage, 9 Chamika Karunaratne, 10 Kasun Rajitha, 11 Lahiru Kumara.

Pitch and conditions

The Greenfield International Stadium has hosted only one ODI to date: India vs West Indies in 2019. Batting first, West Indies were bowled out for 104, and India chased it down with nine wickets to spare. The temperature during the day time should be around 30°C; it will become slightly cooler at night. There is no forecast for rain.

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