India vs Sri Lanka Champions Trophy clash: It’s advantage Men in Blue

There were few boxes India left unticked at Edgbaston. The openers got valuable runs, Virat Kohli destroyed any doubts over his form or state of mind, and Yuvraj Singh batted with aplomb.

Hardik Pandya, promoted up the order ahead of M.S. Dhoni, demonstrated his ball-striking abilities before sneaking in a few quiet overs. India’s selection of bowlers — with Mohammed Shami and R. Ashwin excluded — was justified, although it can be argued that none of them were severely tested.

After that dismemberment of Pakistan, Kohli’s men have travelled down the M40 for Thursday’s meeting with Sri Lanka at the Oval, where victory will take them a step closer to the semifinals of the Champions Trophy.

Same 11 likely

Kohli said after the Pakistan game that the team had been chosen with the conditions and the opposition in mind. India felt the need for an extra pace bowler on that surface and opted to leave Ashwin out.

The absence of left-handers in Pakistan’s top six could also have been a factor.

At any rate, it did not come as a huge surprise, for Ashwin is not the same unstoppable force in one-day cricket that he is in Test matches. In his last one-day series, against England, he managed three wickets for 188 runs; in the one before, in Australia last January, he was dropped after two matches.

While it is likely that India will field the same eleven again, Ashwin’s inclusion cannot be ruled out for the opponent’s top six could feature at least three left-handers.

There is little reason for India to fear Sri Lanka. This is a side with a patchy record in ODI cricket, and that’s putting it charitably.

Poor record

Sri Lanka has lost 15 of its last 23 matches, a period that includes heavy series defeats to Australia, England and South Africa.

Against India, the island nation has lost 14 of its previous 17 encounters.

In its Champions Trophy opener last week, Sri Lanka was thrashed by 96 runs by South Africa.

Confidence is likely not sky-high.

To make matters worse, Upul Tharanga, who was standing in for Angelo Mathews as captain against South Africa, was suspended for two matches after his side was found guilty of a ‘serious over-rate offence’ by the ICC.

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