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India can't take it easy against 'underprepared' Sri Lanka

Cricketnext Staff | Updated: October 29, 2014, 8:05 AM IST
India can't take it easy against 'underprepared' Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka answered BCCI's urgent call in the affirmative and are here for the five-match ODI series arranged in the eleventh hour after West Indies took a mid-tour flight back home from India - annoying one of the ICC 'Big Three'.

While the West Indies team, its cricket board WICB and the players' association WIPA will sit down to resolve a pay dispute before beginning efforts to calm down an angry BCCI, India will play Sri Lanka, who are expected to pose a much tougher challenge than the Windies. But will their hurried, last-minute preparations prove adequate to beat India on home soil?

Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews says the team is short on skill practice, while veteran Kumar Sangakkara has questioned Sri Lanka Cricket agreeing to BCCI's short-term notice for the series. Not the ideal mindset to enter an international series, but the Lankans have always been high on competitive level once on the field.

The Lankan team was busy with its fitness regime ahead of hosting England next month, but was asked to pack their kitbags for a short ODI tour of India.

"We were preparing for the England series because we knew that there were not any tours coming before that," Mathews told The Nation newspaper. "We needed to reach our peak levels during England series but now that we've been thrown into a challenge, we will try our best to be prepared as much as we can.

"It is not the ideal preparation for an Indian tour," the skipper added.

Sangakkara too echoed his skipper's thoughts, expressing his unease over the sudden break in fitness programme to tour India. "Our 6 weeks of pure fitness work ends abruptly. Have a week to do a months requirement of skills work before India. Planning ahead anyone," the veteran batsman, who is recovering from a back injury, asked in a tweet.

However, Sangakkara, along with Mahela Jayawardene, was named in the Lankan squad despite a disc problem in his back.

But India, who are seriously working towards finding a combination for their World Cup defence, aren't expected to fall into that trap despite being without regular skipper MS Dhoni, who has been rested and replaced by Kohli as captain.

Sri Lanka have never won a bilateral ODI series in India, but that doesn't mean they can't. In Tillakaratne Dilshan, Sangakkara, Jayawardene, Upul Tharanga, skipper Mathews, Nuwan Kulasekara and Thisara Perera, the visitors have enough in the tank to guide youngsters like Kusal Perera, Dhammika Prasada and Ashan Priyanjan.

But Sri Lanka will definitely feel the absence of limited-overs specialist Lasith Malinga and spinner Rangana Herath. While Malinga was unavailable due to injury, Herath was not considered for the tour.

India will be without Dhoni for the first three matches of the series. The regular skipper was given a break by the selectors considering the tough Test tour of Australia, followed by the World Cup over the next five months.

The series also offers a chance to impress for Varun Aaron, Dhawal Kulkarani, Akshar Patel and Umesh Yadav - all of who are fighting for a place in the World Cup squad. That serves as a big motivation and incentive for these fringe players in contention.

But pressure on those in the India squad will also be exerted from those in the India A squad, equally on the verge of either breaking into the national team or close to a comeback.

Sanju Samson, Robin Uthappa, Rohit Sharma, Stuart Binny, Unmukt Chand, Manoj Tiwary, Manish Pandey, Karn Sharma and Kuldeep Yadav are all part of the India A squad to take on Sri Lanka in the warm-up one-dayer on October 30.

That's enough competition to keep the players on their toes to grab the very few World Cup places on offer.

Sri Lanka, on the other hand, will hope to create history with their first bilateral ODI series win in India. Their best performance has been a 1-1 draw in a three-match series in 1997.

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First Published: October 29, 2014, 8:05 AM IST

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