This will be the last international for the retiring Suranga Lakmal, and defeat will push visitors down to fifth on the WTC points table
Ravindra Jadeja’s superlative all-round show in Mohali meant Sri Lanka were no match for India in the first Test, and as the caravan moves to Bengaluru for the pink-ball contest, the hosts look even stronger.
(last five Tests, most recent first)
Sri Lanka LWWWD
In the spotlight
The wait for Virat Kohli‘s 71st Test hundred is getting longer and longer. It has now been 71 innings in international cricket (49, if you exclude T20Is) since his last hundred, which coincidentally came in a pink-ball Test against Bangladesh in Kolkata. It is not that he has looked out of sorts in this period, but the three-figure score has somehow eluded him. Fans will expect Kohli to end that streak at his adopted home.
India are spoilt for choices. If they want to retain three spinners, they can bring in Axar for Jayant. If they want to go with three seamers, which is unlikely, Jayant could be replaced with Mohammed Siraj.
India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Mayank Agarwal, 3 Hanuma Vihari, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Shreyas Iyer, 6 Rishabh Pant (wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Axar Patel, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Mohammed Shami
Dimuth Karunaratne confirmed that Chamika Karunaratne would replace Vishwa Fernando. Mendis and Praveen Jayawickrama are likely to slot in for the injured Nissanka and Kumara. Sri Lanka could also consider replacing Charith Asalanka with Dinesh Chandimal.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), 2 Lahiru Thirimanne, 3 Kusal Mendis, 4 Angelo Mathews, 5 Dhananjaya de Silva, 6 Dinesh Chandimal/Charith Asalanka, 7 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 8 Chamika Karunaratne, 9 Suranga Lakmal, 10 Lasith Embuldeniya, 11 Praveen Jayawickrama
Pitch and conditions
Karunaratne said that the pitch is “very dry” and has little grass covering. It’s expected to help spinners, so the teams may prefer batting first after winning the toss. The weather should be mostly sunny during the daytime with a few passing clouds in the evening. There is no forecast of rain.
Stats and trivia
“Axar adds a lot of value to the squad. He offers a lot with the bat, ball, and in the field. Whenever he is fit, he straightaway jumps back into the squad. But there will be a discussion about what combination we want to go with.”
Jasprit Bumrah on if Axar is a straight swap for Jayant
“We want to win a Test somehow, and do something that hasn’t been done before. We have a big expectation. From day one till the last day we know what we have to do, but we have to put that in motion.”
Dimuth Karunaratne wants his players to apply themselves in the middle
Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo