Formidable India All Set to Increase the Sri Lankan Camp’s Misery

India will once again be expected to be at their ruthless best when they take on a Sri Lanka, which has hit nadir in both form and confidence, in the second one day international in Pallekele on Wednesday.

After a lop-sided 3-0 Test series victory, the script did not change much in the opening ODI, where India steamrolled the opposition by nine wickets.

Such has been Sri Lanka's performance that supporters stopped the team bus demanding answers for a shoddy show.

Chief coach Nic Pothas pointed out in no uncertain terms that all is not well within the team, indirectly pointing fingers at the interference from team manager Asanka Gurusinha.

Like it has happened during the past few months, Shikhar Dhawan pummeled the Lankan bowlers into submission with an unbeaten 132 in the first ODI. For skipper Virat Kohli, it was business as usual with an unbeaten 82.

Virat Kohli (L) and Shikhar Dhawan (R) take a run during the first ODI.

It will be interesting to see in the second ODI, if Kohli shuffles his batting order a bit to give KL Rahul and Kedar Jadhav some batting time considering the inept Sri Lankan bowling which has failed to get the 'Men In Blue' out.

There have been questions raised about Sri Lanka's team selection policies.

Test skipper, and one of Sri Lanka's most attacking batsmen, Dinesh Chandimal was left out of the playing XI as ODI captain Upul Tharanga – generally an opener – came out to bat at Number 4, where Chandimal bats.

This has set tongues wagging that all is not well in the Sri Lankan dressing room and that the coach and captain are being over-ridden by others. Coach Pothas openly questioned the decision of leaving out Chandimal in the post-match conference.

When asked about the influence of team manager Gurusinha and chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya, he came up with the classic "too many cooks" quote.

Dinesh Chandimal was left out of the playing eleven in the first ODI.

However, it doesn't take spotlight away from the simple fact that Sri Lanka once again failed to provide adequate challenge for the Indian team.

If the Test series was evidence of the gap between the World Numbers 1 and 7 ranked teams, then one evidence of the Dambulla game alone, the ICC ODI rankings of India and Sri Lanka – World Numbers 3 and 8 respectively – are justified too.

This series too has all the makings of another one-sided contest and is not making for a good spectacle for the home fans, who clearly let their displeasure known during the first One Day International.

Sri Lanka need to win two ODIs in this series to make sure that West Indies do not overhaul them in the ODI ranking and gain automatic qualification for the 2019 ODI World Cup before the 30 September deadline.

The hosts need more responsibility and stability in their batting ranks, and could look to bring back Chandimal, if only to quieten down the heated atmosphere surrounding the team's dismal performances recently.

It is tough to see who will be left out though as the top-order did well enough to put the Indian attack under pressure, until at least the 28th over when Lanka were placed at 150/3, thanks to the exploits of Danushka Gunathilaka, Niroshan Dickwella and Kusal Mendis.

Niroshan Dickwella plays a shot during the first ODI.

They had resisted the Indian pace attack as well as one half of their spin duo to lay the foundation of a decent- enough target, only to be let down by the lower order.

In keeping with the coach's words, some responsibility lies with the trio as well, for one of them was expected to hold one end together and go on to play a big innings.

This lack of in-game maturity, and experience as a whole, is what sets them apart from the Indian top-order at present.

While Lanka will once again be struggling with these questions of overcoming self-doubt, the Indian camp will be wondering if they will be challenged at all during this tour.

The Test series proved to be a cakewalk, and in that light, the selectors' call to rest senior bowlers and experiment with younger blood has been justified.

Whether the hosts step up or not, this is vital game time for the likes of Axar Patel and Yuzvendra Chahal, with the Men in Blue already stepping up their preparations for the next World Cup.

(With inputs from PTI)

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