India may continue to test their bench strength having already taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series
However, in the era of the World Cup Super League, there are no dead rubbers. Teams no longer play just for the pride. So in the third ODI on Friday, Sri Lanka will be aiming for ten crucial points to get back into the race for the direct qualification for the global event in 2023.
Unlike Sri Lanka, India don’t have to worry about World Cup qualification. As hosts of the event, it’s all automatic. That gives them the luxury of trying out what could probably be called a third-choice XI.
Sri Lanka LLLLW (Last five completed ODIs, most recent first)
In the spotlight
In these dire times, if one player has stood up for Sri Lanka, that’s Wanindu Hasaranga. The legspinning allrounder picked up 3 for 37 in the second ODI and a Sri Lankan victory couldn’t be ruled out until he had finished his quota of ten overs. He has been effective with bat too; in his last ten ODIs, Hasaranga has scored 341 runs at an average of 37.89 and a strike rate of 97.15.
Sri Lanka can bring in Akila Dananjaya for Lakshan Sandakan. In two games so far, Sandakan has combined figures of 2 for 124 from 18.4 overs at an economy of 6.64.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Avishka Fernando, 2 Minod Bhanuka (wk), 3 Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 4 Dhananjaya de Silva, 5 Charith Asalanka, 6 Dasun Shanaka (capt), 7 Wanindu Hasaranga, 8 Chamika Karunaratne, 9 Dushmantha Chameera, 10 Akila Dananjaya, 11 Kasun Rajitha
Bhuvneshwar Kumar didn’t look 100% in the last match and India could consider resting him on Friday. Navdeep Saini can come in his place. Having recovered from his knee ligament injury, Sanju Samson can replace Kishan if India want to give chances to more players.
India (probable): 1 Prithvi Shaw, 2 Shikhar Dhawan (capt), 3 Ishan Kishan/Sanju Samson (wk), 4 Manish Pandey, 5 Suryakumar Yadav, 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Krunal Pandya, 8 Deepak Chahar, 9 Navdeep Saini, 10 Kuldeep Yadav, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
Pitch and conditions
Batters in this series have enjoyed playing their shots on the R Premadasa pitches but at the same time, there has been help for spinners too. A similar pitch is expected for the third ODI as well but the weather could play a spoilsport. It’s forecast to be cloudy with intermittent showers on the match day.
Stats and trivia
- The last time Sri Lanka won a bilateral ODI series against India was in 1997.
- Since January 2020, India’s fast bowlers have picked up just five powerplay wickets in 14 ODIs, at an average of 159 and an economy of 5.88.
- Yuzvendra Chahal has 97 wickets in 56 ODIs. Three more wickets on Friday and he will join Jasprit Bumrah as the joint-second fastest Indian to the 100-wicket landmark. Mohammed Shami (56 ODIs) holds the record for India.
“[MS Dhoni] has had a very big impact on me. Not just during my time at the CSK but even when I was growing up. We have all seen how he takes the match close. Every time I speak to him, he tells me it’s in your hands to take the game till the end and if you can do that, then it’s just a matter of a few overs.
Deepak Chahar on how Dhoni’s advice helped him during the second ODI
Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo