India, Sri Lanka to battle for No.1 Test spot

Ahmedabad, Nov 15 ( With the hysteria around Sachin Tendulkar’s 20 years in international cricket slowly abating, it’s time to get the focus back on some serious cricket.

India have to put behind the disappointment of the ODI series loss to Australia when they take on Sri Lanka in the first Test here Monday.

A 2-4 loss in the seven-match ODI series at home was not what the fans expected from the World No.2 team. India lost the battle for the No.1 spot and slipped to No.3.

In the three-match Test series against Sri Lanka, India will renew its battle for the No.1 spot in Tests. At present they are No.3 and a 2-0 win in the series will spiral them to the top spot in Test cricket.

But it will not be an easy task. Sri Lanka have never won a Test series on Indian soil, but last year they caused tremendous embarrassment for the Indian batsmen in their own backyard.

Sri Lanka unleashed mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis to puzzle the Indians. Mendis and veteran Muttiah Muralitharan picked up 48 wickets between them, inflicting a 2-1 series loss on India.

But much has changed since then. Indian batsmen have started reading Mendis well. He was at the receiving end of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir’s fury in the One-day series.

Muralitharan doesn’t have an impressive record in India, but the off-spinner will be Sri Lanka’s mainstay in bowling.

The Motera pitch here came under severe criticism in the last Test played against South Africa. A fiery Dale Steyn ripped apart the Indian batting as the hosts suffered a humiliating innings and 90 run loss.

This time curator Dhiraj Prasanna promised that it would be flat track that would allow Indian batsmen to come up with some big innings.

Surely, the limelight will be on Tendulkar. The batting maestro would like to start his third decade in the international career on a positive note and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said he is expecting a big knock from the batting maestro.

Batting will be India’s strength against the Sri Lankans and Dhoni would like to go in with seven batsmen and four bowlers.

A fit-again Zaheer Khan will be back spearheading the Indian attack with Ishant Sharma. On a flat track, the onus would be on off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and leggie Amit Mishra to get some good purchase against the Sri Lankans, who are good players of spin.

Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardena, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Thilan Samaraweera all are proven performers and they are ready for an exciting duel with the Indian bowlers.


India (from)

Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Murali Vijay, Pragyan Ojha, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Subramaniam Badrinath.

Sri Lanka (from)

Kumar Sangakkara (captain), Muttaiah Muralitharan, Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Tharanga Paranawithana, Thilan Samaraweera, Angelo Mathews, Thilina Kandambi, Prasanna Jayawardana, Kaushal Silva, Chanaka Welegedara, Thilan Thushara, Nuwan Kulasekera, Dhammika Prasad, Rangana Hearth, Ajantha Mendis.