India vs Sri Lanka: Second Test Preview

Batsman faces bowler in front of packed cordon

India will be keen to bounce back against Sri Lanka when the two sides meet on Wednesday 13 December. 

The hosts were given a proper wake-up call in the first ODI in Dharamsala, where Mahendra Singh Dhoni's rearguard effort down the order at least showed his place in the first-choice XI is still warranted despite plenty of opinion to the contrary.

Sri Lanka, well, have taken one step in the right direction in an attempt to turnaround and otherwise dire limited-overs campaign this year - and are just one result away from an unlikely series victory.

India v Sri Lanka | Wednesday, 13 December | Punjab Cricket Association Stadium | 8:00

To Win Match
India 34/100 | Tie 35/1 | Sri Lanka 9/4

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Life without Virat Kohli, evidently, is not necessarily going to be easy this month. Sri Lanka exploited and exposed a Kohli-less middle order superbly in the series opener - and Dinesh Karthik and company need to ensure that does not happen again.

Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey have a mere 21 ODIs between them, but alongside Karthik, must find the collective temperament and runs to justify Kohli's absence, regardless of whether openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohi Sharma fire or not.

While India didn't have a whole lot to defend in Dharamsala, Hardik Pandya showed that he perhaps isn't quite ready to shoulder the responsibility of being the third seamer just yet. Therefore, a specialist spinner might need to be sacrificed for an additional seamer.

Surprisingly, Sharma didn't afford Yuzvendra Chahal or Kuldeep Yadav some early overs in the face of a low score in the first ODI. He would do well to allow one, if not both, the chance to bowl soon after the opening powerplay is finished in Mohali.

India lost nine consecutive ODIs at the Punjab Cricket Association between 2006 and 2011, but have since rectified that record to four wins in five attempts. Their last here was in 2016, when Kohli and Dhoni contributed a ton and half-century, respectively, but they are without the former and should not be over-relying on the latter this time.

Sri Lanka
The tourists surprised all and sundry by triumphing in the Dharamsala, but have to capitalise on the momentum by wrapping up series victory against opposition substantially superior in the ICC rankings for ODI teams.

Angelo Mathews was the near perfect foil to Suranga Lakmal with the new ball. This needs to continue, with the temptation to demote Mathews to first change and elevate Nuwan Pradeep avoidable.

Their top- through middle-order was hardly tested a couple of days ago, but the collective ability to chase down a modest total - convincingly, not sluggishly - made a big statement.

Granted, Danushka Gunathilaka and Lahiru Thirimanne failed, but there is no reason to change the XI, let alone the batting order. Having only faced seam in Dharamsala, though, they will need to adapt to the challenge of spin in Mohali.

Sri Lanka have not played an ODI at Wednesday's venue in over 10 years. Upul Tharanga, however, is a survivor of that 2006 Champions Trophy victory over Bangladesh. Freed of the limitations of captaincy recently, he'd dearly like to weigh in with another century at this ground.

Verdict: Sri Lanka 9/4
With Kohli not around to boost morale and the total and a penchant for getting down on themselves when things are not going their way, India might just be in for a big surprise.

Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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