Calcutta/Adelaide: After back-breaking defeats, India must be enjoying the luxury of going into a match with back-to-back wins. Finally, the World Champions will enter the arena as favourites when they clash with Sri Lanka, in their fourth match of the ODI tri-series, on Tuesday.
Mahendra Singh Dhonis men are on a high after beating Sri Lanka and Australia in successive matches. The victories ensured that the debatable rotation policy was pushed away from the limelight.
A win, after all, is a win. And if Tuesday turns out to be a victorious day, it will be a hat-trick of wins — a rare occurrence if one goes through Indias woeful record in the past few months.
If the rotation policy is persisted with, it could be Virender Sehwags turn have rest. Sachin Tendulkar, as reported by The Telegraph on Monday, is set to return and he should be fresh enough to feast on an average-looking Sri Lanka attack.
If The Master gets going, it could well be the day when he finally meets his long-pending milestone of the 100th International century.
If Sehwag sits out, Tendulkar could be opening with Gautam Gambhir, who had an impressive outing against the Australians the other day. The left-hander looked extremely assured during his 92 in the last match and would be looking for a repeat act, against the Lankans.
The middle-order, too, is beginning to bloom well. Virat Kohli has undoubtedly been the best Indian as far as batting in this tour Down Under is considered. His composure has been exemplary and he is only getting better with every match. Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina, the two relative failures in the first two games, too have picked up their paces in the last match.
Dhoni, the batsman, played a different game against the Australians. He blended restrain and aggression, and lived up to his reputation as an efficient finisher as he took India to the target.
In the bowling department, it remains to be seen whether the rotation policy is applied. If Dhoni opts to rest Zaheer Khan, then Praveen Kumar may make a comeback.
But if the Indians are basking in their new-found confidence, theres no reason to think that the Sri Lankans would be mere pushovers. They have lost both their matches in the tournament so far, but they didnt go down without a fight.
Twice in Perth, they had India and Australia on the ropes and just couldnt finish off the match. They allowed India to escape from 181 for six in the first match and needed only a hit to prevail over Australia.
With experienced customers like Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene in the line-up, it is only a matter of time before they can translate their almost-wons to wins.
Both have been relative failures in the first two matches, but at the same time have given glimpses of their sublime touch as well. And if Tillekaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga can provide a sound start to the innings, Sri Lanka have able all-rounders, like Angelo Mathews, to post or chase a sizeable total.
In all the three matches so far, India have chased a total. In Melbourne, it cost them dear in a rain-curtailed match, but in the next two games, its been a happy ending.
India (likely): Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar/Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Vinay Kumar, Zaheer Khan/Praveen Kumar, Umesh Yadav
Sri Lanka (likely): Tillekaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Sachithra Senanayake, Chanaka Welegedara/Dhammika Prasad
Umpires: Nigel Llong and Simon Fry
TV: Bruce Oxenford
Match Referee: Andy Pycroft
Match starts: 8.50am (IST)