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The Economic Times - - Sports: The Great Games -

—AP prob­a­bly a dif­fer­ent kind of sit­u­a­tion.”

It’s also go­ing to be a dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tion in that the pic­turesque cricket ground at Pallekele is one of the new­est in the coun­try, hav­ing hosted only five Tests and In­dia fea­tur­ing in none of th­ese. Of th­ese, three were drawn, also a com­plete odd­ity in a coun­try where not one of the most re­cent 18 Test matches have been drawn.

The change in na­ture that Kohli was re­fer­ring to – pre­sum­ably brought to his at­ten­tion by Bharat Arun, the bowl­ing coach, who took a trip to the sta­dium – was the typ­i­cally sub­con­ti­nen­tal re­moval of grass.

While on Fri­day morn­ing you could scarcely tell the pitch from the out­field, so green was that strip in the val­ley, things had changed by af­ter­noon. Sanath Jaya­suriya, the chair­man of Sri Lanka’s se­lec­tion panel, had a chat with God­frey Dabare, the chief cu­ra­tor at the ground, and out came the bris­tles and mow­ers. Ex­actly what Sri Lanka hope to achieve with the pitch they put up is any­one’s guess. Af­ter all, they were brushed aside on a bat­ting beauty in Galle and dis­missed with­out thanks on a d r y, spi n-f r iend ly sur­face at the Sin­halese Sports Club. You would think they might turn to spin, but be­ing with­out the ser­vices of Nuwan Pradeep and Su­ranga Lak­mal, they are left with Vishwa Fer­nando and Lahiru Ku­mara, both green­horns.

Con­trast this with In­dia, who, even with­out Ravin­dra Jadeja, have pen­e­tra­tive spin op­tions in R Ash­win and Kuldeep Ya­dav, the bub­bly 22-year-old chi­na­man bowler who should play his sec­ond Test, and se­ri­ous depth in quick bowl­ing. Mo­ham­mad Shami and Umesh Ya­dav have been a per­sis­tent threat even on pitches not es­pe­cially help­ful to their craft and there’s Bhu­vnesh­war Ku­mar lurk­ing in the shad­ows should In­dia be­lieve that the over­cast con­di­tions and pitch con­spire to aid lat­eral move­ment. While Kohli stressed on the need for con­ti­nu­ity and con­sis­tency in team se­lec­tion, even some­one like Ishant Sharma is not com­pletely out of con­tention, es­pe­cially with the lim­ited-overs series and more to fol­low soon af­ter.

To put it mildly, In­dia have all bases cov­ered, for all con­di­tions and pitches, while Sri Lanka won’t come close to putting their best eleven on the park thanks to in­juries and re­cur­ring nig­gles. In­dia have never blanked a team out 3-0 over­seas in their Test his­tory. If they don’t do so now, the next op­por­tu­nity might be a long time com­ing. And for this rea­son, de­spite the re­lief that the Kandy rain has brought, fin­gers will be crossed that the rain stays away just long enough to al­low a team on the rampage to force a re­sult.

In­dia have all bases cov­ered, for all con­di­tions and pitches, while Sri Lanka won’t come close to putting their best eleven on the park

In­dian cap­tain Vi­rat Kohli Test wins In­dia have in Sri Lanka — they are tied with Pak­istan for most vic­to­ries on the is­land. Four of th­ese wins have come since 2015, and have come con­sec­u­tively.

runs at an av­er­age of 76.63 makes Pu­jara the lead­ing run-scorer for 2017.

drawn Tests in Sri Lanka in three years. Each of the 18 most-re­cent matches have yielded re­sults.

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