first_imgA near flawless demolition of Pakistan achieved, India will eye another dominant performance to seal a semifinal berth when they take on Sr Lanka in the ICC Champions Trophy at The Oval in London on Thursday.Having pulverised Pakistan by 124 runs, India will start as overwhelming favourites against Sri Lanka, who looked in total disarray during their 96-run defeat at the hands of South Africa.The only worry is the fickle London weather, with forecasts of 40 percent chance of heavy rainfall.Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has also said that the only thing that can stop India at the moment is the rain, otherwise the current Sri Lankan team doesn’t stand a chance against Virat Kohli’s team.”The only thing that can stop Indian team is the rain, so I want the rain to stay away and we get to play 100 overs.”If we do have a full game then I don’t think this Sri Lankan team has that much in them to beat India. They have a couple of good individual players in Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews and Upul Tharanga but as a team I don’t rate them too highly,” Harbhajan told India Today in an exclusive chat.Contrasting performances aside, the sheer difference in quality also puts India a few notches ahead of the cricketers from the island nation.? ? #CT17 #INDvPAK BCCI (@BCCI) June 4, 2017On paper, the two sides are a total mismatch.While India ticked almost all the boxes in their victory against Pakistan, the Sri Lankans, in their opening fixture, looked as if they have only entered the tournament to add numbers.advertisementThe winners of the last edition have a formidable batting line-up, which is being backed very well by a potent bowling attack.”The bowling unit was fantastic from the first ball itself (against Pakistan). From the seamers to spinners everything went in our favour but by working hard. We made it happen,” Harbhajan said.And therein lies the problem with Sri Lanka, which is a side that is going through a rebuilding phase for the longest time now.To make matters worse, the form and fitness of regular captain Angelo Mathews is a cause for concern, while senior opener Upul Tharanga’s two-match suspension has added insult to injury.It’s two years since both Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara quit ODIs post the 2015 World Cup but Sri Lanka have not been able to single out even a couple of players, who can show steely resolve.The likes of Dinesh Chandimal or Chamara Kapugedara have been around for some time but both have been guilty of not realising their full potential till date.No wonder Sangakkara has made it clear that Sri Lanka need to show aggression and play with arrogance against India while conceding that it may not be easy for them.”I would personally like this young Sri Lanka side to walk out at The Oval and play with the arrogance and abandon of youth,” Sangakkara wrote in his column for the cricket governing body website. (”They should express their talent and play a really positive brand of cricket. If they are able to do this, then they have a chance of pulling off an upset, but it will not be easy an India team that so confidently overwhelmed Pakistan on Sunday.”The prospect of a return for Mathews represents a major boost for the squad but Sangakkara stressed they badly needed to resolve their shockingly poor over rate.”If Angelo, Sri Lanka’s best batsman and captain, is deemed unavailable for this vital clash, it could severely hamper the team’s chances of winning against India,” the former wicketkeeper-batsman added.”Even if Angelo is considered fit, the threat of slow over-rate will be a major concern. Having Tharanga suspended is a huge waste.”With quite an experienced and senior bowling attacked led by (seamer) Lasith Malinga, a team constituting two spinners, it is unacceptable that Sri Lanka was over by 39 minutes.”For India, playing Sri Lanka before facing South Africa (on June 11) is an advantage as they can go into the final group league game with a free mind.???? vs Pak #CT17 – @imVkohli & @YUVSTRONG12 complete their fifties, #TeamIndia 284-2 after 45.4 overs (48 overs) #INDvPAK BCCI (@BCCI) June 4, 2017Rohit Sharma hitting a 91 on comeback is a reassurance while Shikhar Dhawan’s positive approach will keep the ‘Men in Blue’ in good stead.Skipper Virat Kohli has over the years been Sri Lanka’s nemesis and the 81 not out against Pakistan, is just the tonic he needed before taking on the likes of Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal and Nuwan Pradeep.advertisementYuvraj Singh was in vintage form at the Edgbaston and a placid Oval pitch will only help get a few more runs under his belt.Hardik Pandya’s power hitting at No 7 and his ability to chip in with quick wickets makes this Indian side more intimidating.”Too happy to see Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma scoring runs, and ofcourse, I was so happy to see Yuvraj Singh batting out there and the way he hit those shots it’s just amazing to see. When Yuvraj gets going it’s impossible to stop him,” an elated Harbhajan told India Today.Bhajji also praised Hardik for the way he has emerged as one of the top all-rounders in the country. The younger Pandya’s skills with the bat and his bowling and fielding abilities makes this Indian team even more dangerous. Harbhajan, who plays with Hardik at Mumbai Indians in the IPL, feels India must retain the same playing XI with Hardik a valuable asset to the team.””I would play with the same XI because everyone played really well against Pakistan including Hardik Pandya. He gives you so much with the bat, bowl and with his fielding, he’s electric. He’s feeding off Virat’s energy on the field. He’s someone who looks forward to the challenges and I think he should play.”The same XI gives us more batting and bowling options with Pandya and one spinner Ravindra Jadeja. And if at all we have to bowl another spinner then don’t forget the golden arm of Yuvraj Singh,” Bhajji said.It is unlikely that Kohli would tinker with the winning combination although one feels for Ashwin, who is India’s strike bowler in the red-ball format.For Sri Lanka, this is a do-or-die match where a lot will depend on how well skipper Mathews plays and the kind of performance Malinga gives while bowling first up.If the duo fails, one can be sure that Sri Lanka will meet Pakistan’s fate against this current India side.Teams:India: Virat Kohli (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ajinkya Rahane, Dinesh KarthikSri Lanka: Angelo Mathews, Upul Tharanga, Dinesh Chandimal, Niroshan Dickewalla, Chamara Kapugedara, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera, Sekkuge Prasanna, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal, Lakshan Sandakan, Lasith Malinga, Asela Gunaratne, Nuwan Kulasekara.last_img

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *