It isn't exactly a nice time to be a Sri Lankan fan; bruised and battered after being thrown around in the Test series, the Lankan cricketers would have been expected to dish out a relatively better showing in coloured clothing.
Alas, Sri Lankan batting's minor hiccup turned into harakiri as they imploded to a sub-par total in the first ODI, literally thrusting the game in India's pocket. Such was the angst that some of the fans ambushed the team bus outside the stadium.
A radical change in the team's fortunes seems unlikely, but the competition, hopefully, will be a lot stronger in the second ODI, as the Lankans come to terms with their apathy and raise their game.
Here's what India's line-up could look like for the second ODI on Thursday:
Much like his twirled moustache, Shikhar Dhawan’s fortunes have seen an upward curve ever since he returned to the national side post the IPL. An in-form Ajinkya Rahane has not been able to displace Dhawan, whose love-affair with ICC events continued with the Champions Trophy. ‘In his zone’ at the moment, Dhawan, with a hundred in the first ODI, is off to a perfect start this series.
After spending three Tests on the bench, Rohit Sharma returned to the team for his favourite format, but an unfortunate run-out restricted his scratchy stay to just four runs. Vice-captaincy now on his shoulders, Rohit will have to aim for more responsible knocks in the coming days.
45 runs adrift of topper Faf du Plessis, Virat Kohli is on the verge of becoming 2017’s leading ODI run-getter. An unbeaten fifty in the first ODI has laid the perfect platform for Kohli to prep up for the upcoming Australia challenge, one that could see him compete neck to neck with his contemporary, Steve Smith.
According to MSK Prasad, KL Rahul will be tried out at No.4 for the ODI series, in a bid to identify batsmen who can be a perfect fit for the role in the lead-up to the 2019 World Cup. A player who thrives when backed by the team, Rahul can be an invaluable asset to the side if he materializes his potential and doesn't keep breaking down like a four-wheeler from the 80s.
A few days before joining the team in Lanka, MS Dhoni was seen sharpening his skills at the NCA in Bengaluru. While the outside world keeps chattering about his waning finishing skills, Dhoni silently goes about plying his trade. He didn’t have much to do in the first ODI, apart from adding another stumping to his name to take his career tally to 98.
Lower middle order
With the Sri Lankan second wicket partnership going hammer and tongs, Kohli slipped in Kedar Jadhav’s seemingly harmless off-breaks to mix things up, which eventually bore fruit. A versatile, street-smart player, Jadhav has been able to ward off other middle-order prospects due to his dynamic batting and more-than-useful bowling in the middle overs.
Hardik Pandya has nippy pace, but doesn’t get the ball in the right areas, making him a sitting duck in the powerplay overs. His batting in international cricket has taken a turn for the better with a Test century to his name, and also after his recent hard-hitting exploits in the Champions Trophy.
Is Axar Patel the new Ravindra Jadeja? Apart from the obvious similarity in bowling styles, Patel is shutting up detractors with every passing game, finishing the previous game with career best figures. His arm balls have been lethal when on point and he is dead accurate wit his lines. Fielding is an added bonus, although his batting could add a few more layers to be sound enough for top-flight cricket.
Yuzvendra Chahal has impressed whenever he has got a chance, however sporadic his appearances may have been. In the Dambulla ODI, he gave the side their first breakthrough, and returned to take another wicket, although he shed more runs than he would have liked to. In his place, Kuldeep Yadav could be tried out, having impressed in the only Test he got to play on Lankan soil.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar must have been enjoying the beaches of Sri Lanka, but he got no game time until the first ODI. He started off by inducing a thick edge on his very first ball, but his form wandered away after that, as he ended with no wickets next to his name in six overs.
Despite a not-so-impressive outing, Bhuvneshwar is likely to be retained.
Jasprit Bumrah has become Kohli’s go-to bowler over the last one year, shedding his nervy guy image to consistently find out spot-on lines in the power-play overs and in the death. Having bowled first-change in the first ODI, Bumrah will have to share the new ball with Pandya, if Bhuvneshwar doesn’t make the cut.