Pallekele: With the series already won, Virat Kohli-led India will aim to continue their dominance over Sri Lanka as the third and final Test of the series begins here on Saturday.
While Sri Lanka, who put up some resistance in the second innings of the second Test, are doing everything in their power to avoid a cleansweep; like taking off the grass cover from the pitch, it will not be an easy task for Dinesh Chandimal and Co with their ace spinner Rangana Herath ruled out of the third Test due to back pain.
India, meanwhile, will also miss the services of numero uno all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja as he was suspended over a dangerous throw at Dimuth Karunaratne in the second Test.
While Axar Patel is picked in the Indian squad as Jadeja’s replacement, it is likely that chinaman Kuldeep Yadav will accompany Ravichandran Ashwin as the two will take care of India’s spin-bowling department.
Indian batsmen are in a good form with all of them amongst runs. While Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli could not score heavily in the second Test, the two have hundreds against their name in the first. Ajinkya Rahane and KL Rahul too have good scores against their name with the likes of Wriddhiman Saha, R Ashwin and Hardik Pandya making healthy contributions to team’s cause. But it is Cheteshwar Pujara, India’s “best Test batsman”, who has been a thorn in Sri Lanka’s flesh with two hundreds in two Tests.
Sri Lanka’s batting meanwhile has been heavily reliant on Dimuth Karunratne. The Sri Lankan opener has been a standout performer for the hosts in the first two Tests. However, Sri Lanka will want Kusal Mendis and Niroshan Dickwella to continue with their form as the likes of Upul Tharanga, Angelo Mathews and Chandimal struggle to get amongst runs.
Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (captain), Angelo Mathews, Upul Tharanga, Dimuth Karunaratne, Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Lahiru Thirimanne, Lahiru Kumara, Vishwa Fernando, Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiru Gamage, Dilruwan Perera, Malinda Pushpakumara, Lakshan Sandakan.
India: Virat Kohli (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice captain), Rohit Sharma, R Ashwin, Axar Patel, W Saha (wk), Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, M Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Abhinav Mukund.