Sad that Sri Lanka will miss their quality all rounder for the 3rd ODI at Cuttack while India will be minus their big scoring skipper MS Dhony. So far both teams have played fine one day Cricket in their last two outings .For the visitors, the absence of Mathews will be of concern while India have plenty in the bench for Dhony at least from a batting view point .What India will miss is Dhonys’ guidance.
Sri Lanka have replaced three players so far during the ODI series due injury. The latest casualty being Mathews who nearly got the visitors home in the first ODI, but made up for the folly by winning the second game with an unbeaten 38 at Nagpur last Friday .Mathews also did well in first game at Rajkot where Sri Lanka lost by 3 runs, that too in pursuit of a big ODI total of 415.
Both teams are evenly matched, with stroke makers who can change the complexion of a game against any opposition. The home team knows very well that the visitors are capable of chasing big totals hence they need to be better than their best against the likes of Dilshan, Tharanga, Sangakkara and Jayewardene.
Sehwag who will lead the team tomorrow knows very well that Jayewardene is without a big score so far; hence a big one might be just round the corner. He will also be vary of the visitors opening pair in Dilshan and Tharanga who are striking it well with on the trot century partnerships for the first wicket. Sangakkara is timing and middling the ball to perfection. He made 90 at Rajkot and unfortunately was a run out victim at Nagpur.
The Sri Lankan middle order will miss Mathews but they have three options. Jayasuriya if given an opportunity would want to prove the selectors wrong, Samaraweera struggling a bit will look to cement his place if he gets a look in, and Mathew’s replacement Thissara Perera fresh from the oven will want to make an impact if he gets the opportunity to play his debut at Cuttack.
Sangakkara knows the Indian batting strength. Yuvraj will be back in the side, the opening combination of sehwag/Tendulkhar needs no introduction to their exploits with the bat. Gambir looks hungry, Yuvraj batting at four is a handful, while Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina will always pose a threat when chips are down.
Sri Lanka minus three of their strike bowlers and the fourth in Nuwan Kulasekera sitting in the hut due poor form seem a bit vulnerable in this part of the skill. Lasith Malinga has recovered but is he match fit? Welegedera is impressive but who will share the new ball with him? Will the Lankans give the job to Suranga Lakmal or Lasith Malinga?
Ajantha Mendis is bowling well but he knows very well that on Indian pitches the margin for error is minimal. On hindsight I dare state that Indian bowling attack looks more settled and better balanced. Zaheer Khan and Asish Nehera have gone for plenty in the power play overs but they seem to have more control bowling in the depth. Take for example, in the second ODI the Indians made 102 runs in last 10 overs while Sri Lanka struggled to make the required 67.
One can argue the fact that India got 102 setting up a target, fair enough, but what will happen if India is chasing and they have the likes of a Dhoni or a Yuvraj Singh or even Suresh Raina at the wickets. Sri Lanka will be tested without our strike bowlers especially in the last ten overs.
Cuttack has always been India friendly. India has won 8 out of their 12 one day games at this venue. However the bad news is they lost to Sri Lanka back in 1990, hence the visitors have a 100 percent success rate at this venue. India played their last ODI at Orissa in November 2008. They Chased an English target of 271 and got it with ease in 43.4 overs.
Sehwag made 91; Sachin Tendulkhar 50 and Suresh Raina 53 not out. With the series level at one all, tomorrow’s game will be a ripper.