KL Rahul has been ruled out of the first Test due to viral fever, ensuring that the 25-year-old Karnataka batsman continues to suffer an injury jinx. If India are expecting mystique and trickery, they will be caught off guard; if they make the mistake of conflating this lack of aura to ordinariness, they will be in for a surprise, if not a rude shock.
They have some outstandingly talented batsmen like Kusal Mendis, but that experience, apart from Angelo Mathews and Rangana Herath, is missing and in Test cricket, experience is what really counts when it comes to converting draws into wins. Lack of a stable opening pair could hurt India. We have come a long way from that tour. That series victory gave the Virat Kohli captained team the confidence that they can turn themselves into world beaters, and they have certainly done that and more.
An inexperienced side, new captains and recent poor performance at home present an opportunity for Kohli & Co.
However, the young team led by Dinesh Chandimal has the potential to trouble India and not to forget the wily spinner Rangana Herath, who returned with 11 wickets from the last Test against Zimbabwe. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, suffered a group exit in the Champions Trophy, after which they were beaten by Zimbabwe in an ODI series earlier this month. They have won each of their last four Galle Tests. However, cricket being an unexpected game, Sri Lanka can be dominating on their day.
Since their arrival on the island, India have even made the kinds of noises that teams, who are runaway favourites, tend to make. "For us we are playing a game of cricket, it doesn't matter which opposition we are playing against", Kohli said.
A Test series loss would mean India slip one spot in the Test ranking. They have a 6-5 record after losing the toss. "Also you need to understand, last time we felt in the first Test that we played here we probably were a batsman short and the fifth bowler didn't do much in the game". The Sri Lankan President's XI were bundled out for 187.
It will be interesting to see if India go in with a five-bowlers strategy or not.
In a first class career that stretched over 21 years Tillakaratne scored 13,253 runs at an average of 49.26. Abhinav Mukund, who is trying to fit into the team, was out for a duck. How can Sri Lanka beat a side that, nearly irrefutably, is fitter, better drilled, more confident and, probably, have comfier seats and softer suspension on their team bus? "Then I got a six-for on the first day", Ashwin told reporters.
"Thinking in a certain way, training in a certain way and coming together as a team in a certain way".