Even as the Indian team prepares to depart for the Emerald Isles on Wednesday for a five-match One-Day International series, the Sri Lankans are eagerly awaiting to take them on in what should be an exciting fare. The Lankans have been on a roll of late, playing a lot of cricket and good cricket. They are presently riding on creditable Tests and ODI series win over Pakistan at home. In fact, the hosts beat Pakistan 3-1 in the ODI series.
The fans are upbeat given the good form of the Sri Lankan batsmen which should augur well for the series ahead. India, as always are a strong side but they will need time to settle down and that is where the Mahela Jayawardene-led hosts will look to seize the initiative. Also, the rain would be a factor with the start of the monsoon in Sri Lanka. Thankfully, the first two of the five games are in Hambantota, which is a comparatively drier zone unlike Colombo which will see the third and fourth games. Pallekele will host the fifth and final match.
Sachin Tendulkar will not be there and that should mean that Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir will open the batting for India. Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, can also opt for the young and promising Ajinkya Rahane if the need be. It will, however, be for the likes of Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and Manoj Tiwary to deliver in the middle. Dhoni, of course, will be there to pitch in when needed.
Sri Lanka have included left-arm fast bowler Isuru Udana keeping in mind the Twenty20 World Cup in September. The 24-year-old has a lot of potential and has done impressively in the domestic circuit. He bowls with a lot of variety. He also has the slower bouncer which can catch batsmen by surprise. Confidence will be the key for Udana and this series will help him be ready for the T20 World Cup since he is more of a T20 bowler.
Talking about T20 World Cup, India would be keen to see the return of Yuvraj Singh having fought his way back to good health. I am sure he will now be a different and motivated player. The classy all-rounder that he has been, Yuvraj will hope to deliver more and better. I wish and hope that he makes a successful return.
Cricket is back in focus in the subcontinent what with India inviting Pakistan to revive their sporting ties. It's good especially when you realize that fans all over the world are always eager to see an India-Pakistan clash.
For starters though, it will be India vs. Sri Lanka!