India and Sri Lanka are set to lock horns in the first game of the two-match Test series starting Friday, March 4. The Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali will host the contest.
However, the spotlight would be firmly on two Indian superstars. Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. Kohli will be taking the field in his landmark 100th Test, while Rohit Sharma will be taking charge of a team for the first time after being appointed a full-time captain.
India will be treating the series as a golden opportunity to make up for numbers in the World Test championship, while the visitors will be eyeing their first win on Indian soil in 20 attempts.
Ever since he has taken over the reins of the team as full-time skipper from Virat Kohli, Rohit as a leader has been flawless, winning all three series with a whitewash. Not discrediting the efforts of the team, but the oppositions against which the team won the matches actually put their weapons down even before fighting, especially West Indies against whom India won both the ODI and the T20I series 3-0.
Ind v SL: WTC points on offer!
Indian batting will see two major changes, the number 3 & 5 spot. There is a good chance Shubman Gill and Hanuma Vihari will be given a go in these spots.
R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will be back as the spin operators. It will be interesting to see who will be accompanying Jasprit Bumrah as the second pacer in the playing XI.
Earlier, it was learned that the game will be played behind closed doors. But it was decided that a 50 per cent crowd would be allowed at the venue. The hosts will also go through a transition period after they dropped veterans Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Wriddhiman Saha for the series.
Rohit’s tactical acumen has always got him respect from all quarters and the first reflection of it in Test cricket would be how he handles his playing XI.
Pathum Nissanka has been in good form lately and will be good support for Dimuth Karunaratne at the top. Angelo Mathews in the middle order provides solidity and gives a good bowling option.
This will be Suranga Lakmal’s final series. He has been a wonderful contributor to Sri Lankan cricket, especially in the second half of his career.
The challenge however remains the same and it is whether or not the Lankans, led by Dasun Shanka, compete against the mighty Indians. For Rohit Sharma and his team though, the challenge would be to continue their flawless white-ball run in the longest format and build up a solid unit for the future.
India v SL: Lanka look to shine!
Sri Lanka, who are the current leaders of the World Test Championship 2021-23 points table, would face a tough challenge against India. They would expect that a change of format can lead them to have a different result in this series.
The Lankan batting line-up depends heavily on skipper Dimuth Karunaratne along with old guards Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews, both well past their prime.
How well they handle Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja on a pitch that will be dry after being baked by sunshine is a million-dollar question.
Karunaratne would hope that his team’s batting and bowling lineup will do well so they don’t have to go through another whitewash. The Lanka team is hanging on their spinners for success but the slow bowling might not work against the Indian batting attack. India also possesses the top spinners.
India is coming off a painful 1-2 loss to South Africa in their previous Test series and they will be looking to move up in the World Test Championship table with a big victory at home.