While Rohit Sharma prepares to lead for the first time in a Test match since being handed the role of full-time skipper, Virat Kohli will be walking out for his landmark 100th Test match at Mohali.
After dominating the visitors in the three-match T20I series, India will now look to inflict further punishment on Sri Lanka when they lock horns in the first game of the two-match Test series beginning on Friday (March 4) at the Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium, Mohali.
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Sri Lanka may enter this series sitting pretty at the top of the 2021-23 World Test Championship (WTC) table, thanks to a 2-0 win over the West Indies in 2021, but their record on Indian soil is pretty woeful. The island nation has failed to record a single Test victory in their previous 20 attempts on the road against their neighbours.
India have won 11 and drawn 9 of their last 20 Tests against Sri Lanka at home and that’s a record that newly-appointed full-time skipper Rohit Sharma will be looking to preserve.
Meanwhile, the spotlight will once again be focussed on former skipper Virat Kohli when he takes stance for his landmark 100th Test for India. Having failed to register a three-figure score since late 2019, Kohli will be keen to make his centenary appearance extra memorable by ending that drought and notching up a 71st International hundred.
Another exciting aspect of this Test series will be how Rohit manages India’s transition in the batting department. With India set to line up without either Cheteshwar Pujara or Ajinkya Rahane in the Playing XI for the first time since 2012, there will be sharp scrutiny on what their replacements bring to the side.
Shubman Gill has been tipped to walk out at No. 3 and break the mould of the ultra-defensive enforcer which has been carefully cultivated in the past by current coach Rahul Dravid and more recently, Pujara. Gill is a batter with a vast repertoire of shots which he isn’t shy to unleash once he settles in.
However, there’s also the option to send in Hanuma Vihari to bat at nN. 3, given that he fits the mould of a defensive batter and has shown grit when thrown into the line-up in difficult overseas conditions.
Meanwhile, Shreyas Iyer will be expected to fill in for Rahane further down the order. Iyer comes into this game in excellent form after a Player-of-the-Series performance in the recently concluded T20I series, remaining unbeaten with scores of 57, 74 and 73. He also scored a century on his Test debut against New Zealand and will be keen to grab his latest opportunity in whites with both hands.
Sri Lanka were barely able to lay a glove on India in the shortest format, losing the series 0-3, but they will be keen for some redemption, especially with their two specialist left-arm spinners, against this Indian team which is in transition.
Lasith Embuldeniya has five five-wicket hauls from just 13 Tests and his partner in crime, Praveen Jayawickrama has 18 wickets, while averaging just 18.22 in three Tests.
Captain Dimuth Karunaratne has been in scintillating form at the top of the order and Parthum Nissanka looks like an entirely different player when he dons the whites for his nation.
India vs Sri Lanka Probable XIs:
India Possible XI: Rohit Sharma (C), Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (WK), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Sira and Jasprit Bumrah.
Sri Lanka Possible XI: Dimuth Karunaratne (C), Lahiru Thirimanne, Pathum Nissanka, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Charith Asalanka, Niroshan Dickwella (WK), Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Embuldeniya, Praveen Jayawickrama and Lahiru Kumara.
Pitch Report: Speaking about the playing conditions in Mohali, Rohit Sharma said, “It will turn for sure. I can't say if it will start to do so on day one or day four or whenever, but it will turn.”
The track in Punjab has always been on the drier side and we can expect the spinners for either side to have a big say in this contest.
Weather Forecast: The weather reports predict clear skies during the five days of play and temperatures should be around the 32-degree celsius mark. It’s expected to be cloudy on Day 3 but no forecast of rain which means we should have uninterrupted action.
India vs Sri Lanka Squads:
India: Rohit Sharma (C), Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hanuma Vihari, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Jayant Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Kona Bharat (wk), Umesh Yadav, Saurabh Kumar, Priyank Panchal
Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne (C), Dhanajaya De Silva, Charith Asalanka, Dushmantha Chammeera, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella, Lasith Embuldeniya, Vishwa Fernando, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Lahiru Kumara, Kusal Mendis (wk), Pathum Nssanka, Jeffrey Vandersay, Praveen Jayawickrama, Chamika Karunaratne.