ered from viral fever, will walk back into the team. Virat Kohli made it clear that the regular opener had done more than enough to be afforded this luxury.
“Obviously KL has been our established opener. I feel one of the openers will have to make way for KL because, what he’s done in the past two years has been very solid, and he deserves to come back and start fresh in Test cricket again,” said Kohli.
“It’s very important for us to make him feel that this is his spot. And it won’t be changed because of unfortunate events that happen outside of the playing field or the injuries that you can’t control. It’s very important to make him feel secure and he deserves it because he has given us those big performances when the team has required the most. He is a guy that needs to be backed and we as a team, as management and me as captain all back him 100%.”
What this means is that Abhinav Mukund, despite being a livewire under the helmet and scoring an assured 81 in the second innings of the first Test, will be back on the bench. “I feel in a situation like this, you need to sit down and think which player has had more impact on the game, who has been able to sort of make that difference in the game straightaway. It all depends on who has had a better game, to be honest. It’s a pretty thin line, it is a very small margin but unfortunately, that is how the sport goes sometimes and things happen in a team environment.” If that yardstick was applied, Dhawan’s swashbuckling 190 trumps anything Abhinav brought to the table.
In the bowling department, India’s choice is a more nuanced one. Logic dictates that an extra spinner may come in handy on this pitch, making Kuldeep Yadav the onlyoptiontopartnerRAshwinandRavindraJadeja.To accommodate the left-arm wrist spinner, India could leave out either Hardik Pandya or Umesh Yadav. Given just how much the team fancies Pandya’s explosive batting, it would come as no surpriseifUmeshwastheonetomiss out. However, another school of thought is that India’s frontline spinners could comfortably do the job on a helpful surface, and Umesh put his reverse swing to good use on an abrasive surface.
The good thing for Kohli is that Indiahavetheluxuryofknowing that whatever combination they pick, the odds will be stacked against Sri Lanka. This will be Cheteshwar Pujara’s 50th Test. hundreds in each of the two Tests Pujara has played in Sri Lanka so far — 145 not out at the SSC in 2015 and 153 at Galle in the last match. runs Ravichandran Ashwin needs to get to 2000 Test runs. SONY SIX