The Indian sub-continent is in the grip of monsoon and cricket matches suffer on account of rains playing spoilsport. As the Indian contingent under Virat Kohli arrived in Colombo for the three-test series, they were greeted by heavy showers and their training session at the Premadasa Stadium began with light drizzle that developed into full-scale monsoon fury. The Indian team had to move to nearby Nondescripts Cricket Club or the NCC, where indoor nets were available for practice. A few days ago in Bangladesh, Hashim Amla’s South African test side had a similar experience in Bangladesh, where the second test had only one playing day and four were washed out. In the two-test series, no play was possible on a total of 6 days out of 10. This robbed South Africa off 5 ICC ranking points in tests, though they still retained the no.1 position. India’s tour of Sri Lanka, which begins with a 3-day warm-up match against Sri Lanka President XI on August 6, could get similarly affected by rains. More than anything else, such tours lead to the questions about the wisdom of scheduling a series in this part of the world in the midst of monsoon.
If monsoon relents and play becomes possible, the India-Sri Lanka series could be a juicy affair. Both sides are in the process of rebuilding and Virat Kohli has announced his preference of playing 5 bowlers. Such strategy, however, would enhance the pressure on India’s top order batsmen. Since India doesn’t have a genuine all-rounder in the team, it could have deleterious effect on batting, if the frontline batsmen fail. Kohli has a different idea. He thinks that inclusion of five bowlers is not demanding for batsmen because if anyone of Murali Vijay, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane and Kohli himself clicks, India would be in a comfortable position. Vijay has a good record in overseas test matches since his return to the test side after a 9-month long lay-off in the 2013 season. Rohit Sharma has yet to put his stamp in test matches but he has the caliber. Rahane has been a consistent performer, Dhawan is also getting into his groove and Kohli has all the qualities of a top-notch batsman. The Indian batting also have the option of Cheteshwar Pujara, Lokesh Rahul and Wriddhiman Saha, all of whom are capable batsmen. On bowling front, Harbhajan Singh’s arrival will strengthen the spin department, which has lately been spearheaded by Ravichandran Ashwin. Amit Mishra also comes back to lend further support. Of the pace bowlers, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron have proved themselves in the past and with Ishant Sharma making a comeback, India’s medium-fast bowling will be further fortified.
Angelo Mathews’ Sri Lankan team also has batsmen of good international caliber and they may prove difficult to dislodge when in full flow. Lahiru Thirimanne, Upul Taranga, Dinesh Chandimal, Kaushal Silva, Mathews himself and Dimuth Karunaratne will lead the batting charge while the bowling department will be led by Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Rangana Herath and Angelo Mathews. The Sri Lankan team also has a number of all-rounders and on that count, they have an edge over the visitors.
The first test match is scheduled for August 12, 2015 at the Galle International Stadium and cricket lovers will hope for clear skies during it tenure. Meanwhile Sri Lanka Cricket has sold television broadcast rights for the test series to Sony for $3.25 million. Earlier it was announced that Ten Sports had made a $1.40 million bid but Sony more than doubled it. As part of their new contract, Sri Lanka Cricket has advanced the tour by six days and shifted the third test from Kandy to Colombo. It has also been confirmed by Sri Lanka Cricket that the final test at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground will be a farewell test for the mercurial Kumara Sangakkara, who is currently in England, playing for Surrey in English county matches.
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