Adelaide: There was a general consensus after India's uplifting win over Australia on Sunday that despite his heroics in the end, MS Dhoni left it too late for comfort. But the end result - back-to-back wins in the CB series - will spur India on to make it three in a row when they meet Sri Lanka, who are still searching for their first points, here on Tuesday.
Adelaide Oval is the place where India feel at home the most, with the pitch having a true, not exaggerated, bounce that the batsmen perceptibly enjoyed in the successful chase against the hosts over the weekend.
The Sri Lankans have been a tad unfortunate in their two losses so far. They had more than a sniff on both the occasions in Perth but couldn't provide the finishing touch to cross the finish line first. That, in fact, means that India can't take them lightly on any count and instead can expect them to come out attacking.
Sachin is certain to make a return on Tuesday in Adelaide, with Gambhir likely to make way.
India have enjoyed success despite a rotation policy where Sachin Tendulkar saw his team beat the Aussies from the sidelines. Tendulkar is certain to make a welcome return on Tuesday but where this rotation could backfire is with players like Gautam Gambhir, who found his touch with a neat 92 against Australia, being asked to make way.
Virender Sehwag continues to scratch around and should keep his place to find form before the business end of the series. And with India keen on giving Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina as much opportunities, the rolling substitution could be Tendulkar for Gambhir as the great man takes another aim at his 100th ton in Don Bradman's hometown.
Vinay Kumar has been a revelation for India, invariably providing breakthroughs whenever Dhoni needs one. The hot property of the IPL has taken six wickets in three games at an average of 22.50. But it will be interesting to see if Dhoni gives Irfan Pathan a match in place of Umesh Yadav or brings in the tried and tested Praveen Kumar back into the XI. For that matter, it won't be a surprise to see Zaheer Khan putting his feet up for the game, making room for Irfan’s much-anticipated return.
If the Adelaide track helped the Indian batting, it could bring the same good news for their subcontinent neighbours. Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene are still searching for a decent knock, and the 22 yards at Adelaide Oval could provide them that chance.
Sri Lanka have been fairly good with their allrounders like Angelo Mathews in the lower half, but it's the top half that remains dry. Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga have failed to provide starts, and with Sangakkara and Jayawardene failing as well, the multi-faceted players are left with too much to do in the end.
Not many changes are expected in the Lankan line-up on Tuesday; however, Thisara Perera's all-round skills could come in handy on the batting-friendly Adelaide Oval. Dhammika Prasad may then be left out to accommodate that change.
It must be heartening for the Indian management to see their team winning with a rotational policy in place, which keeps all the players pretty much warmed up for the business end of the series. It will also be interesting to see if Dhoni continues to use the formula of chasing targets or puts himself and his team to test by defending a target this time if he wins the toss.
India: Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (c/wk), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Praveen Kumar, Vinay Kumar, Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav, Parthiv Patel (wk), Irfan Pathan, Rahul Sharma, Manoj Tiwary.
Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene (c), Angelo Mathews, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Upul Tharanga, Dinesh Chandimal, Sachithra Senanayake, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Thisara Perera, Dhammika Prasad, Lahiru Thirumanne, Rangana Herath, Farveez Maharoof, Chanak Welegedara, Thilan Samaraweera.