The second Test of the three-match series between Sri Lanka and India is scheduled to start at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo on Thursday. India lead their hosts by 1-0 after their comprehensive victory by 304 runs in Galle.
So, who will make the Sri Lankan and Indian starting eleven at the SSC in Colombo?
Dinesh Chandimal Returns to the XI:
Sri Lanka will have their captain Dinesh Chandimal back in their starting lineup, after he was forced to miss the first Test with pneumonia. The player has recovered sufficiently to have come through several net sessions.
Chandimal is one of the two experienced batsmen in the Sri Lankan line-up - the other being Angelo Mathews - and his presence will add that comfort factor to the Sri Lankan side, something that was missing in the previous game.
Doubts over Herath’s Fitness:
There is more doubt over the fitness of stand-in captain and champion left-arm spinner Rangana Herath who picked up an injury to his finger during the first Test. He was unable to bat in the Sri Lankan second innings.
A decision on his availability is being left for as long as possible, in order to give him the chance to recover sufficiently to take his place in the starting XI.
If he doesn’t get fit in time for the Test, his place might be taken by left-arm chinaman bowler Lakshan Sandakan, a 26-year-old who has played five Tests and picked up 15 wickets so far.
Need a Better Top-Order Showing:
Dunushka Gunathilaka, who made 16 and 2 on his Test debut in Galle, needs to contribute a bit more with the bat. With Asela Gunaratne injured, he might still retain his spot in the side, but another couple of failures could be disastrous.
Also, the likes of Upul Tharanga, Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis need to shore up the top four in a bid to try and stall the strong Indian bowling that managed to bowl Sri Lanka out twice on a flat surface. Any kind of assistance in the SSC pitch could leave the Sri Lankan batting exposed.
India’s Only Headache:
Despite their emphatic margin of victory in Galle, India have a selection headache of their own. And it’s a good one to have.
All their top-order batsmen posted significant contributions; Shikhar Dhawan smashed a massive 190 in the first innings, while his opening partner Abhinav Mukund scored a rapid 81 in the second innings.
Cheteshwar Pujara contributed 153 in the first knock from No.3, while the skipper Virat Kohli made it to three figures in the second knock.
With regular opener Lokesh Rahul now recovered from a bout of flu that forced him to miss the Test in Galle, someone is bound to be disappointed, whatever decision the selectors make. He could return to the side in place of Mukund.