Rain might ensure an early end to India’s tour of Sri Lanka, not that either of the teams will mind that too much.
All that is left of the three Tests, five One-Day Internationals and a one-off Twenty20 International tour, is the 20-overs-a-side contest at the R Premadasa Stadium on Wednesday (September 6).
But with Colombo battered by incessant rains the whole of Tuesday, which forced the cancellation of practice sessions of both sides, there is every reason to believe that the teams might not even need to step on the field to bring an end to the near-two month tour.
The weather forecast is not promising either, with the meteorological department predicting thunder showers on the day of the match.
Should the game happen, however, Virat Kohli’s men will train their eyes on rounding-off what can only be described as one of the most ruthless displays by the Indian cricket team in recent memory.
India humiliated Sri Lanka 3-0 in the Tests and then bludgeoned them 5-0 in the ODIs. A win here will make it 9-0 for the tour. The only time India did not taste victory on this tour was when they drew the two-day warm-up game against Sri Lanka President’s XI.
With India in this mood, there is little reason to believe that Sri Lanka can put an end to a losing streak which started in the fourth ODI of their previous series against Zimbabwe. There Sri Lanka had lost 3-2.
Sri Lanka have brought in six new faces to help them in this attempt. It is the hosts’ last-ditch effort to try and salvage a win and perhaps raise the morale of the team and the nation. One cannot help but feel that the new members could only add confusion to what has already been a perplexing campaign.
There have been seven changes in captaincy since the start of the series and over a dozen player changes in the same time frame, mainly due to injuries. Even the Sanath Jayasuriya-led selection panel handed in its resignation in the wake of the bottle-throwing incident in Pallekele. Such has been Sri Lanka’s fate.
On the Indian side of things, there have been no such issues. Each time India have set foot on the field, they have had a plan and they, fortunately, have the resources to execute it.
For the one-off T20I too, they will set out with a to-do list, albeit with a little more of a laid-back attitude.
As far as the team goes, there could be a couple of changes depending on conditions, but for the most part, the team should bear a resemblance to the playing eleven that featured in the fifth ODI on Sunday.
Kedar Jadhav could make way for Hardik Pandya, despite the brilliant 63 in the previous game. If India do persist with Jadhav for his ability in the middle-order, then Ajinkya Rahane, who struggled in the last game, could once again be benched. That means Kohli could open with Rohit Sharma. On the bowling side of things, Yuzvendra Chahal could make way from Axar Patel, who did not feature in the final ODI.
So far, India have not had to really flex their muscles, such has been the quality of opposition. But with the format being as fast-paced and unpredictable, Sri Lanka can hope to crack the winning code at last. Unless the rain gods conspire to deny them even that.
India: Virat Kohli (capt), Rohit Sharma (vice-capt), KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shardul Thakur.
Sri Lanka: Upul Tharanga (capt), Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Dilshan Munaweera, Dasun Shanaka, Milinda Siriwardana, Wanindu Hasaranga, Akila Dananjaya, Jeffrey Vandersay, Isuru Udana, Seekkuge Prasanna, Thisara Perera, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal, Vikum Sanjaya.