Skipping practice, however, does not mean that India will be taking the last match of the series lightly. The young side under Virat Kohli has shown an insatiable hunger for success and nothing would please the Men in Blue more than inflicting a 5-0 whitewash on the Lankans after having swept the Test series 3-0. Given the red-hot form of the team it should not be a problem for the visitors. The Lankans, on the other hand, face a Herculean task – to lift the morale of the side with a face-saving victory on Sunday.
Veteran all-rounder Angelo Mathews was candid in his assessment of Sri Lanka’s performance in the series while speaking to local media here. “We lack confidence at the moment,” he said.
Sri Lanka’s batting coach Avishka Gunawardene too echoed the former skipper’s views at the pre-match press conference. “To be brutally honest, confidence level is really down,” he said.
It is indeed a sad commentary on a team that had chased down 322 to beat India in the Champions Trophy in June.
On the contrary, India’s fortunes have seen an upward swing and everything has gone according to plan. With the Lanka tour now in its last stretch and selection for the upcoming Odi Series versus Australia at home looming, a number of players in the current squad would like to make a strong statement on Sunday in order to impress the national selectors.
KL Rahul and Kedar Jadhav have failed to capitalise on the chances that they have got so far. Bhuvneshwar Kumar too has not been impressive with the ball, failing to pick up a single wicket in the three ODIs he has played even though he did play a stellar knock in second ODI to help MS Dhoni snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
It will be interesting to see whether Rahul and Jadhav get another opportunity on Sunday. The team management has been a bit unfair on Ajinkya Rahane, who is the only player in this 15-member squad not to have featured in a single match so far. However, with opener Shikhar Dhawan returning to India to attend to his ailing mother, the Mumbai opener, who had won the Man-of-the-Series award in the last ODI series in West Indies, is certain to get a look in.
Youngsters Manish Pandey and Kuldeep Yadav, who make the playing XI in the fourth ODI and made crucial contributions in the team’s victory, are almost certain to continue.
Sri Lanka need drastic improvement in all three departments of the game, more so in batting. The fact that hosts have failed to score even 250 runs in this series, tells its own story.
The return of their regular skipper Upul Tharanga, back after serving a two-match ban for his team’s slow over-rate, should strengthen their batting.
Gunawardene hit the nail on its head at the press conference, pointing out, “Almost everyone in our top-six have got starts in the four matches. None of them, however, could go on to get a big score.”
The batting coach also felt that Sri Lanka played too many dot balls. “Our dot ball ratio in the last 12 months is something like 145 per game. That is almost 50 per cent of the total number of balls we face. This is one aspect we need to rectify,” he added.
Source : timesofindia