—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.