India, Sri Lanka hunt crucial win
Jermaine Lannaman, Gleaner Writer
Champions Trophy winners India, and Sri Lanka, will attempt to get their tri-nation Celkon Mobile Cup one-day international series back on track when they meet today at Sabina Park, starting at 9:30 a.m.
The duo, who lost their opening encounters to the West Indies, will be hoping to record their first points, given the fact that the top teams at the end of the preliminary round will advance to the final.
The West Indies are currently on nine points, while India and Sri Lanka are yet to get off the mark.
"It should be another interesting game playing against Sri Lanka and we look forward to the matchup," said interim India captain, Virat Kohli.
"They are a team we defeated in the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy a few weeks ago, and we know they will be coming at us to turn things around.
"But we know we have the firepower to win again. We just need to look at the areas where we went wrong against the West Indies and try to improve upon them."
Kohli is set to captain India for the remainder of the series, which moves to Trinidad and Tobago after today's match for return-leg fixtures and the final.
Regular captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been ruled out of the series due to a hamstring injury, which he sustained against the West Indies on the weekend. The wicketkeeper-batsman picked up the injury while attempting a single during India's innings of 229 for seven off their 50 overs.
He received treatment during his innings, but did not take the field thereafter with Kohli taking on the captaincy and Dinesh Karthik wicketkeeping duties. West Indies went on to score a nail-biting victory, making 230 for nine off 47.4 overs.
Dhoni will be replaced by uncapped batsman Ambati Rayudu.
With the experienced Dhoni out, India will enter today's contest needing their top and middle-order batsmen - who in recent times have been in decent form - to come good.
This includes openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, Kohli, Karthik and reserve opener Murali Vijay, who is likely to come in as a result of Dhoni's absence.
Whether or not, they can do so, however, is another question as in fast bowlers Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara, as well as off-spinner Ajantha Mendis and leg-spinner Jeevan Mendis (no-relation), Sri Lanka has bowlers who can get the job done.
Sri Lanka's batting will star batsmen Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, the recalled Upul Tharanga and captain Angelo Mathews, who top-scored with an unbeatean 55 in their six-wicket loss to the West Indies.
India's bowlers will again be led by fast bowlers Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav, who both bowled well against the West Indies, as well as the spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravi Ashwin.
"Playing against India will be tough, but it is a task we are prepared for and up to," said Sri Lanka captain Mathews.
"We simply need to stick to the basics better than we did against the West Indies and take our chances when they are presented."