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2nd Test: Five players who can help India bounce back against Sri Lanka

Rohan Raj | Updated on: 13 February 2017, 3:47 IST

After the mind-bender of a defeat at Galle, the Indian cricket team face an uphill battle in their bid to make a comeback in the three-match series as they take on Sri Lanka in the 2nd Test at the P Sara Oval stadium in Colombo on 20 August. Lessons for Virat Kohli & Co.

Virat Kohli-led India, who lost the 1st Test by 63 runs despite dominating the better part of the game, desperately need to plug their loopholes and get their team combination right as Sri Lanka chase a series-winning farewell for their batting veteran Kumar Sangakkara.

Shikhar Dhawan's injury will surely be a blow for India, but the sight of Murali Vijay batting freely in the nets should boost their batting order. The Indian team will also have the seam-bowling all-rounder Stuart Binny at their disposal to strike a balance in the team for the upcoming Test.

The wicket at the P Sara Oval is expected to have more bounce, but it will still support spin bowling. India will be counting on Ravichandran Ashwin to continue his fine form while it remains to be seen whether Virat Kohli opts for both Amit Mishra and Harbhajan Singh for the second Test.

As Virat Kohli's men gear up to challenge the Lankans in the 2nd Test, here's a look at five Indian players who can help the tourists make a comeback in the series:

Ravichandran Ashwin:

The Indian spinner was at his prolific best against the Lankans at the turning Galle wicket. It was Ashwin's six-wicket haul in the first innings that allowed India to gain an upper-hand early in the 1st Test. Ashwin continued to trouble the Lankan batsmen in the second innings and bagged four more wickets with his probing lengths.

While the other Indian spinners Amit Mishra and Harbhajan Singh failed to make an impact, Ashwin thrived by flighting the ball more often and emerged with the figures of 10/160 after the 1st Test. As India desperately eye a comeback in the series, Ashwin will have to repeat his bowling heroics in the 2nd Test against the Lankans who are leading the three-match series 1-0.

Virat Kohli:

The Indian captain was visibly annoyed while publicly lashing out at the Indian batsmen for their dismal show in the 1st Test at Galle. Having scored a sturdy 103 runs in the first innings, Virat Kohli failed to find support from his teammates, especially in the second innings when India failed to chase a modest total of 176 runs on the fourth day.

Though Kohli himself was dismissed for a mere three runs in the second innings, his return to form will be a major boost for the Indian batting order that has struggled to negate the Lankan bowlers so far. Kohli will have to be at his best if India intend to level the series against Sri Lanka going into the 2nd Test in Colombo.

Cheteshwar Pujara:

India's gamble of playing five specialist bowlers at the cost of an extra batsman proved decisive in their loss at Galle. The team composition was already bleak in the absence of Murali Vijay, while Rohit Sharma's failure at the No. 3 spot added to India's batting woes. Sharma, who was selected ahead of Cheteshwar Pujara, failed miserably with the scores of 9 and 4 in his two innings in the 1st Test.

Sharma's never-ending failure in the longer version of the game should allow Pujara to feature in the 2nd Test for India. Even if Pujara's recent form is questionable, the right-hander still boasts an impressive average of 47 from 27 Tests and is capable of providing the much-needed stability to the middle-order which is the need of the hour for India.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar:

Virat Kohli's decision to play Varun Aaron ahead of premier swing bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar was one of the questionable calls in the 1st Test. Aaron, who was expected to trouble the batsmen with his quick pace, was wayward in his line and rarely looked threatening on the Galle wicket.

In the two innings, Aaron took just two wickets in his 18 overs while conceding 107 runs - a little too much for captain Virat Kohli's liking. India will be tempted to play Bhuvneshwar who has been influential with the new ball and has been far more accurate than the other Indian seamers. Apart from his bowling, Bhuvneshwar is more than handy with the bat and can also provide the much-needed depth in the batting.

Amit Mishra:

While Ravichandran Ashwin completely dominated the opposition with his bowling, Amit Mishra was ordinary and Harbhajan Singh had a forgettable outing at Galle. The inability of the two spinners to pick up wickets proved costly for India as the Lankans managed to break away from the pressure created by Ashwin, especially in the second innings.

India need to learn from Sri Lankan spinners Tharindu Kaushal and Rangana Herath who complemented each other while bowling in tandem to bamboozle the tourists. Amit Mishra, who took five wickets at Galle, will have to step up his game and support Ashwin at the P Sara Oval which is likely to provide assistance to the spinners.


India: Virat Kohli (c), Murali Vijay, K L Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron, Stuart Binny.

Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (c), Lahiru Thirimanne, Kaushal Silva, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kumar Sangakkara, Dinesh Chandimal (wk), Upul Tharanga, Jehan Mubarak, Kusal Perera, Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera, Tharindu Kaushal, Nuwan Pradeep, Dhammika Prasad, Vishwa Fernando, Dushmantha Chameera.

First published: 19 August 2015, 7:59 IST
Rohan Raj @ro4an_raj

After a poor stint in gully-cricket quashed his hopes of turning pro, Rohan moved away from the playing field and began criticising those who were still on it. Football eases his mind and watching City paint Manchester blue is his elusive dream. When not talking, thinking or dreaming about sports, Rohan can be found listening to EDM or watching movies. A sports correspondent at Catch News, he has previously worked with Hindustan Times, Daily Bhaskar and India Today.