After drawing curtains on a painfully one-sided Test series, Sri Lanka and India will now lock horns in the five-match ODI series, the first game of which will be played in Dambulla on August 20. Having being overpowered in the Test series, hosts Sri Lanka will look to turn things around in the shorter format of the game.
This will be an interesting contest considering the fact that the last ODI played between the two teams was won by Sri Lanka. However, Virat Kohli's team are coming off a 4-1 victory against West Indies in the Caribbean, the momentum firmly on their side.
Sri Lanka have not qualified for the 2019 World Cup yet and will be desperate to win the series and notch those important wins. Coming up trumps in the first match against a potent side like India will do world of good for them, more so in their current form.
Venue: Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium, Dambulla
Date: 20 August
Time: 2:30 PM (IST)
Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were exceptional throughout the three-match Test series, but have been rested for the limited overs games. Yuvraj Singh and Dinesh Karthik, who played in West Indies, have not been included in the 15-man squad.
Manish Pandey has been drafted in courtesy his exploits with India 'A' last month. In his pre-match press conference today, Kohli confirmed that KL Rahul will definitely play in the middle order. As was stated by MSK Prasad, Rahul is most likely to start at No.4 in the batting line-up.
"This will be an important series as we are ranked eighth [with a chance of failing to automatically qualify for the World Cup]. India have been very consistent in the last three-four years, but we have confidence having beaten them in the Champions Trophy when no one thought we would," said Sri Lanka's recently appointed ODI skipper, Upul Tharanga.
Sri Lanka will rely on experienced campaigners like Angelo Mathews, Lasith Mallinga and Thisara Perera to go toe-to-toe with India through the series.
Pitch and weather
The pitch at Dambulla isn't as bowler friendly as it was a couple of years ago but will not offer a complete run fest. The team batting first has won 22 out of the 50 matches played at this venue while the team chasing has come out on top 26 times. The average first innings score on the wicket is 216, which concedes 300 to be a very good total.
The weather forecast suggests that the day will be cloudy, but there is is no real threat of rain throughout the day.
Head to head
India have won 83 of the 150 ODI matches against Sri Lanka, while Sri Lanka were victorious in 55. Of the remaining 12 matches, one match was tied.
The visitors had a successful Champions Trophy campaign, where they lost to arch-rivals Pakistan in the final of the tournament. This was followed by a successful West Indies series.
It is safe to say that the team is high on confidence coming into this series.
The mood in the Sri Lankan camp is quite opposite to the Indians'. They crashed out in the group stage of the Champions Trophy and then failed to win an ODI series against Zimbabwe at home. Mathews resigned from captaincy after the series and the huge responsibility of keeping India at bay will now be on Tharanga's shoulders.
To say that Sri Lanka will be apprehensive to step onto the field against India is an understatement.
Back from injury, Indian opener Rohit Sharma was at his destructive best in the Champions Trophy in June. He was rested for the West Indies tour, where Ajinkya Rahane replaced him at the top of the batting order, in turn performing brilliantly.
Sharma is back to the squad, not just as a player, but as deputy to Virat Kohli. The 30-year-old has shown the tendency to blossom under additional responsibility. Besides, he loves batting against Sri Lanka. The world-record 264 came against this very opposition.
Apart from Sharma, chinaman wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav is the man to watch out for, in the match, and through the series.
Niroshan Dickwella is one of the few Sri Lankan cricketers that have managed to stand out in through last one year. He is a cheeky, street-smart player who has a clear understanding of his strengths and weaknesses. His contribution at the top of the order will be crucial for the hosts.
This might be a series of redemption for Mathews, who will be relieved of the ancillary pressures of captaincy. His injury has completely healed and the right-hander will don his usual role of all-rounder and not a specialist batsman.
India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), Lokesh Rahul, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Kedar Jadhav, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah.
Sri Lanka: Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Upul Tharanga, Angelo Mathews, Chamara Kapugedara, Wanindu Hasaranga, Thisara Perera, Akila Dananjaya, Lasith Malinga, Dushmantha Chameera.
Probable Winner: India