Never has a Sri Lankan side looked as toothless in an ICC tournament as they did in their Champions Trophy opener. Their top-order looked promising in the chase, setting up at 100 for 2 inside 14 overs but the collapse that followed proved that something was not right. India on the other hand shamed arch-rivals Pakistan by an astonishing 125-run margin in the opener. Everything they did on the field on Sunday worked, but they would definitely want to improve on their fielding efforts from that match.
Sri Lanka has beaten India only once in seven attempts (WC 2007) in ICC tournaments since their successful 1996 World Cup campaign. They have never beaten this opposition in the ICC Champions Trophy and were whitewashed 5-0 in their last bilateral series. Also, Sri Lanka has made nine changes to their squad since their last meeting in an ICC tournament compared to India’s four.
India, defending champions, played like champions and let everyone see that they are in for a fight for what their captain thinks belongs to them. Rohit Sharma and Yuvraj Singh, who marked their return to international cricket after injuries looked to have found their mojo in the opener. But no matter how clinical their performance was against a numb Pakistan, Virat Kohli and his men will be wary of their ODI record since the World Cup 2015 and Sri Lanka’s ability to fight back.
Sri Lanka will be without their vice-captain and star batsman from the opening game. Upul Tharanga has been suspended for the next two matches in the Champions Trophy because of an over-rate offence in their match against South Africa. He will be unavailable against India and Pakistan.
India: Virat Kohli (C), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Kedhar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Ravendra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah.
Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (C), Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal, Chamara Kapugedera, Asela Gunaratne, Thisara Perera, Seekkuge Prasanna, Nuwan Pradeep and Lasith Malinga.
Angelo Mathews missed Sri Lanka’s opener against South Africa due to a calf injury. He hasn’t played international cricket since his match-winning half-century in the second T20 against South Africa in January. He last featured in an ODI in August 2016, almost nine months ago. News from Sri Lanka’s camp is that he has been declared fit to play against India but will only be available as a specialist batsman to continue his recovery from the injury. He appeared to be in good batting form in the practice match against Australia at the same venue and Sri Lanka will need his experience and captaincy to be back on a winning track.
Virat Kohli, playing his first ICC tournament as captain, proved against Pakistan that captaincy in a major tournament doesn’t halt his batting enigma. He loves batting and scoring runs against Sri Lanka, having scoring 6 hundreds and 10 fifties, the most by him against any opposition. Sri Lanka’s main strike bowler Lasith Malinga has dismissed him only once in 20 innings. His aggressive intent on and off the field has been a talking point between the experts but no one can doubt his ability and talent to overturn the result in his team’s favour from any match situation.
India has been unbeaten in the ICC Champions Trophy for seven consecutive matches in a row, the record for the most consecutive wins in the CT, held jointly with West Indies.
Thisara Perera has dismissed Virat Kohli five times in ODI cricket, the second-most by any bowler.
Virat Kohli has more ODI centuries than Sri Lanka’s CT entire squad combined.
It has been 554 days since Lasith Malinga last took an ODI wicket.