Throwdown specialist Nuwan Seneviratne has been the most sought-after member of the Indian back room over the last three days. He has been relentlessly trying all his angles and variations in an effort to release the ball in a fashion similar to a lanky Pakistan left-arm pacer.
It’s understandable since Shaheen Shah Afridi has been the nemesis of the majority of top-order batters in international cricket over the last few years. India is not an exception, with Afridi having led the Pakistan pace trio during the abandoned Asia Cup preliminary stage clash last weekend.
On Sunday, weather permitting, Afridi’s duel against Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Co. is set to be revived at the R. Premadasa Stadium. No wonder then that all the India batters over the last couple of training sessions have been eager to have a bat against Seneviratne in the nets.
All the top-order batters faced Seneviratne on Friday night under lights. With Saturday being an optional nets day, of the seven squad members who turned up, three batters - who are set to feature in the XI - had a go against Seneviratne.
Shubman Gill, K.L. Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja had long stints against the left-armer, with head coach Rahul Dravid keeping a close eye on the proceedings. It will be interesting if India’s batters can actually find answers to the Afridi riddle on Sunday.
With the provision of a reserve day, abandonment is all but ruled out. But India will be hoping to conquer Pakistan and take a giant leap towards booking a place in the final.
Despite the debate over the wicketkeeper-batter’s slot, Rahul is set to be preferred for the role, thus marking his return to competitive cricket since May. Ishan Kishan, despite playing a stellar role, is set to make way for him.
Similarly, Mohammed Shami is again likely to miss out, with Jasprit Bumrah having rejoined the squad after the birth of his son. Besides these two changes, India is unlikely to tinker around with its team that overcame Nepal last weekend in Pallekele.
Pakistan, on the other hand, will be eager to virtually qualify for the final with a win against India. Having thumped Bangladesh in the Super Four opener in Lahore earlier in the week, Babar Azam’s army is hoping to get India under the mat.
It will be interesting to see how the Pakistan batters fare, especially in a shortened game, against India’s potent bowling attack.
While the fans will be hoping for a full game, it is set to be a stop-and-start day. According to the weather report issued by Sri Lanka’s Department of Meteorology, “several spells of showers” are expected throughout Sunday.
The fans will be hoping for the dark clouds to dodge the Khettarama area to watch the rivalry being truly revived ahead of the World Cup.
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