Shubman Gill’s guile was yet again on display. Rohit Sharma sizzled in his maiden hit of the year. And Virat Kohli lent the knockout punch.
As if that wasn’t an ideal start to the preparation for the ODI World Cup, Mohammed Siraj’s exploits with the new ball and Umran Malik’s magical spell in the middle meant India had Sri Lanka on the mat for most of the opening ODI on Tuesday.
As the touring entourage moves from the north-eastern region to the holy grail of cricket in the eastern metro, Rohit and co. will be keen to extend head coach Rahul Dravid’s birthday celebrations by sealing another series at the Eden Gardens.
Sri Lanka - with none of its squad members having experienced playing at the Colosseum - will be hoping for a miracle to keep the series alive till the weekend. Despite the favourable result - and Rohit and Kohli’s return to their favourite venue - India still has plenty to ponder with an eye on the World Cup.
The combination that India chose for the series-opener is unlikely to be tinkered with. But it will be interesting to see how India manages the reserves, especially the duo of Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav.
No doubt, Gill, Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul have been among India’s standout performers in ODIs since the start of 2022. But with Kishan having notched up a double-hundred in Bangladesh in Rohit’s absence and Suryakumar being in the form of his life, especially in T20Is, the duo is bound to feel hard done by for being benched in the ongoing series.
Ishan and Suryakumar’s body language in the dugout during Tuesday’s series opener was positive. But the team management will have to go the extra mile to ensure the dressing room remains positive and vibrant.
Despite Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka ending the game on a high and the visiting side crossing 300, India is unlikely to change the bowling line-up. The only point of discussion could be whether to give Hardik Pandya - who has played four games in 10 days with extensive travel in between - a break for managing his workload.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, will have a lot to ponder over heading into the must-win game. Its lacklustre outing in the PowerPlays and poor catching haunted it big-time in Guwahati. To add to its woes, left-arm pacer Dilshan Madushanka is unlikely to feature on Thursday after dislocating his right shoulder during the first ODI.