Sri Lanka vs India 1st Test – Preview

It's usually an exaggeration when someone describes a green pitch as being indistinguishable from the outfield. But at Eden Gardens on Monday, when the groundstaff whisked away the white tarpaulin that had covered the Test-match pitch all afternoon, it was close to being the truth. Live green grass covered every inch of the strip, and you had to squint – at least if you were looking at it from the stands – to discern the subtle shift of shade where it bordered the rest of the square.

Even though three days remain before the start of the first India-Sri Lanka Test, it's hard to see it changing too much.

While the extent of its greenness may have come as a bit of a surprise, the pitch was always expected to help the seamers. Ever since the square was re-laid in 2016, Eden Gardens has been a fast bowler's ground. Last year, aided by seam movement and uneven bounce, the quicks took 26 of the 40 wickets that fell during the India-New Zealand Test here, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar picking up a five-for in murky conditions late on day two. Just under two months ago, Bhuvneshwar was at it again, swinging the new ball wickedly under lights to bowl India to an ODI win against Australia.

Opening batsman Dimuth Karunaratne is only 60 runs away from becoming only the second Sri Lankan opener after Sanath Jayasuriya (in 1997 & 2004) to aggregate 1,000 runs in a calendar year. He will have a new partner in Sadeera Samarawickrama who has just played one Test against Pakistan.

The toss-up between Lahiru Thirimanna and Dhananjaya De Silva for the number three position will be a tricky one but due to the DDS recent performance, the team management might just give him the nod.

Another conundrum arises whether to play Dasun Shanaka as the seam-bowling all-rounder or to play a specialist batsman in Roshen Silva or to play a third spinner in Lakshan Sandakan.Due to the others failing Roshen Silva is likely to receive the nod.

Rangana Herath who has 405 Test wickets will face off against an opposition that has done well against him. In the recent home series, Herath took just five wickets at an average of 69.40 and overall, he averages 45.96 against India in nine Tests – the highest for him against any opponent.
 Most Likely XI that can win aganist India-

1.   Sadeera Samarawickrama (Right-hand Batsman)
2.   Dimuth Karunaratne(Left-hand Batsman)
3.   Dhananjaya de Silva (All-Rounder)(Right-hand Batsman)(Slow Right-arm Off-Spin)
4.   Angelo Mathews (Right-hand Batsman)
5.   Dinesh Chandimal (Right-hand Batsman)(Captain)
6.   Roshen Sliva (Right-hand Batsman)(Debutant a day before his 29th Birthday on the 17th of November)
7.   Niroshan Dickwella (Left-hand Batsman)(Wicket-keeper)
8.   Vishwa Fernando(Left-Arm Fast-Medium)/Dasun Shanaka(All-Rounder)(Right-hand Batsman)(Right-Arm Medium)
9.   Rangana Herath (Slow left-arm orthodox)
10. Suranga Lakmal(Right-Arm Medium-Fast)
11. Lahiru Gamage (Right-Arm Medium-Fast) 
12. Lahiru Thirimanne (Left-hand Batsman)
13. Dasun Shanaka(All-Rounder)(Right-hand Batsman)(Right-Arm Medium)/Vishwa Fernando(Left-Arm Fast-Medium)
14. Dilruwan Perera(Slow Right-arm Off-Spin)
15. Lakshan Sandakan (Slow left-arm chinaman)

This Test Series will either be the Sri Lanka Rebirth or the Graveyard of Sri Lanka Cricket.
They don`t have to win but least if they complete and make it hard for India to win is a Big Achievement.

Most Likely XI by the Sri Lankan Mangement is –
1.   Sadeera Samarawickrama (Right-hand Batsman)
2.   Dimuth Karunaratne(Left-hand Batsman)
3.    Lahiru Thirimanne (Left-hand Batsman)
4.   Angelo Mathews (Right-hand Batsman)
5.   Dinesh Chandimal (Right-hand Batsman)(Captain)
6.   Niroshan Dickwella (Left-hand Batsman)(Wicket-keeper)
7.   Dilruwan Perera(Slow Right-arm Off-Spin)
8.   Dasun Shanaka(All-Rounder)(Right-hand Batsman)(Right-Arm Medium)
9.   Rangana Herath (Slow left-arm orthodox)
10. Suranga Lakmal(Right-Arm Medium-Fast)
11. Lahiru Gamage (Right-Arm Medium-Fast) 
12. Dhananjaya de Silva (All-Rounder)(Right-hand Batsman)(Slow Right-arm Off-Spin)
13. Roshen Sliva (Right-hand Batsman)
14.  Vishwa Fernando(Left-Arm Fast-Medium)
15. Lakshan Sandakan (Slow left-arm chinaman)

Pitch and conditions

The Eden Gardens pitch is green and expected to be two-paced; it seems this Test will be played in similar conditions as the last Kolkata Test when 26 of the 40 wickets fell to pace. Any chances of the pitch drying out might have been laid to rest by persistent rain on the day before the Test. There is more expected on the first three days of the match.

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