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A dominant Indian team is expected to maintain its stranglehold on a miserable Sri Lanka and wrap up the three-match series when the two mismatched teams face off in the second Twenty20 International here today.

There seems no end to the woes of the visitors, who slumped to a heavy 93-run defeat in the series-opener in Cuttack. While the Indian youngsters have put their hands up to deliver the goods, the Lankans are going through a terrible phase of transition during which they are badly in need of reliable performers. The result has been a lack of contest and one-sided results, prompting many to question the very logic of India playing such a weak side again and again.

This series has hardly proved to be a good preparation for the challenging South Africa tour that awaits India next month, considering the home team’s domination in the absence of a good opposition in favourable conditions. The Indian batsmen have made merry against a toothless attack. Runs and wickets always give confidence to the players but there is a question mark over how much these performances will count in the South African conditions.

Absence of regular skipper Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan and a transformed Bhuvneshwar Kumar has not given any respite to the Sri Lankans, who overtly rely on seniors such as Angelo Mathews. 

However, even the senior Lankan players have struggled to counter the Indian bowlers and batsmen. A robust domestic structure coupled with Indian Premier League (IPL) has prepared a good bench strength for the hosts.

Players such as Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have managed to carve a niche for themselves immediately after making their International debuts. Sri Lanka need captain Thisara Perera, Upul Tharanga and Mathews to lead by example. They have been part of the side for long and only strong performances by them can infuse life and hope into this dejected side. Players such as Dusmantha Chameera and Dhananjaya De Silva have shown promise and need guidance to be consistent.

India does not need its best team to prevail over the current Sri Lankan combination, yet it is imperative that they keep performing well. They may not get big credit for success but failure against weaker opponents would surely put them in negative light. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, whose finishing prowess has been under the scanner for some time now, got some runs under his belt after being promoted to number four in Cuttack and is likely to continue in the same position so that he gets enough overs in match situation before the ODI and T20 challenge in South Africa.

Shreyas Iyer, who scored 24 in Cuttack, would also look to get some substantial runs in the absence of Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan. KL Rahul is in good touch and Indian bowlers are also in fine rhythm since the beginning of this tour. It won’t be a surprise if they continue to dominate the Lankan batsmen.

India: Rohit Sharma (C), K L Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Siraj, Basil Thampi and Jaydev Unadkat.

Sri Lanka: Thisara Perera(C), Upul Tharanga, Angelo Mathews, Kusal Janith Perera, Danushka Gunathilaka, Niroshan Dickwella, Asela Gunaratne, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dasun Shanaka, Chaturanga de Silva, Sachith Pathirana, Dananjaya De Silva, Nuwan Pradeep, Vishwa Fernando and Dusmantha Chameera.


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