The two sub-continental cricketing heavyweights go into this game with a win behind them and will look to harness the early momentum gained in this fortnight long tournament. While Team India were back to what they do best in the game against Bangladesh, Sri Lanka – in their 1st game against Pakistan – gave a good account of themselves. Although they didn’t cruise to victory, they’d be content with what they achieved against a mercurial Pakistani side.
So with both India and Sri Lanka winning their respective matches comfortably, what are those 3 factors that could prove decisive in tomorrow’s tussle between these two sides?
Results in limited-overs cricket in the subcontinent are increasingly becoming dependent on the toss. This is not something new that needs to be addressed, but it’s starting to look as if winning the toss could guarantee you a higher percentage of winning the game, as well.
The game between Pakistan and Sri Lanka wasn’t affected by dew, but it was more a case of Malinga’s brilliance that clinched it for Sri Lanka. Chasing 297 for victory, Pakistan looked like they had the game under control at 242-5, but a terrific comeback spell from Malinga, who finished with 5-52, bulldozed Pakistan’s middle and lower middle-order to give the Lankans a 12-run victory.
India’s opening game against Bangladesh was affected by dew, and the number of ball changes that took place didn’t bring about a reversal in fortunes for Bangladesh, who didn’t bowl too badly. Virat Kohli invited Bangladesh to bat after winning the toss, and 280 was a decent total on the board. With India in a spot of bother at 54/2, things could have been slightly different if not for the dew that had kicked in way before the 25-over mark in the Indian innings.
Albeit there’s no guarantee whether dew could play a part in the game, the captain winning the toss would want to bowl first. If the dew kicks in during the 2nd half of the game, I wouldn’t mind putting my money on the team batting second to clinch it.
Team India’s poor bowling performances have reached a stage where it’s no longer a predicament for the opposition to score upwards of 280 and 300 without really going for it. Barring Shami’s figures of 4-50 in his 10-over spell, you got to ask yourself whether India bowled well to keep the score down to a mere 279 against Bangladesh.
Varun Aaron had a nightmarish day at the office, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar‘s performances are proving to be deceitful of what he promised during his debut ODI series against Pakistan in the later part of 2012. Wickets have dried up for Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, as well, and I just get the feeling that the Indian think-tank has resorted to the fact that they can’t bowl well enough on a given day to contain a batting unit from scoring 280, 300 or even 350 sometimes.
A repeat of such a bowling performance tomorrow could cost Team India dearly, irrespective of whether they bat or bowl first. The Sri Lankan batsmen are in prime touch and would want to exploit the weak Indian bowling to pile-up the pressure on a batting unit that is inexplicably dependent on how well Virat Kohli can keep it together.
The Indian bowling has to come up with the goods if Team India has to entertain thoughts of beating Sri Lanka. Because of the magnitude of weakness in the Indian bowling line-up, it could prove to be a decisive factor in deciding how the game pans out.
Virat Kohli vs. Lasith Malinga
This is one of the few mouthwatering tussles in world cricket at the moment. Lasith Malinga has been a fear factor for most batsmen in international cricket; but if there is someone who has played Malinga better than anybody else, it has to be Virat Kohli without a shadow of a doubt.
One of the reminiscent clashes between these two modern-day superstars in world cricket was at the Blundstone Arena in Hobart, when Team India were in pursuit of chasing 321 in 40 overs to keep themselves alive in the Tri-Nation Tournament in Australia in 2012.
Malinga, who finished with figures of 7.4-0-96-1, was taken to the cleaners on the night by Kohli. The eccentric Sri Lankan quickie had no answer to the mauling that he received from the 25-year-old. No matter what Malinga threw at the right-hander on the day, Kohli was in a devastating mood to rip the hell out of the quickie; it was a signature assault that will cling on to many an Indian cricket fanatic’s memory.
As far as the game is concerned, Virat Kohli will once again carry the responsibility of holding the Indian innings together, and Malinga will by far be the biggest threat to Kohli’s ambitions. Also, most of the Indian batsmen in the squad for the Asia cup wouldn’t have faced Malinga that much, and it could well be a case of make or break for either side depending on the performances of these two key players.
So there you go folks, it all sets up for an intriguing battle between India and Sri Lanka, and I have no skepticism in my mind that the aforementioned factors will have a major say in the game’s proceedings.