India and Sri Lanka look to ace another trial by spin

India and Sri Lanka will clash in Pallekele again. © Getty Images

After suffering a blip in the third T20I, India started their campaign in the ICC Women’s Championship by registering a relatively comfortable victory in the opening ODI in Pallekele on Friday.

They will look to clinch the series by registering another win at the same venue on Monday against the hosts.

What’s at stake?

With the three-matches series being a part of the ICC Women’s Championship, both the teams have plenty to play for. Sri Lanka have already lost the series against Pakistan and another series loss will set them back early in the race to qualify directly for the next World Cup in 2025.

India, on the other hand, are yet to put in a complete performance in this series, with their batters, in particular, having their fair share of struggles against the turning ball.

This is also India’s first series without Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami in almost ten years. The last series they played without the legendary duo was in 2013, when they blanked Bangladesh 3-0.

It’s still early days in Harmapreet Kaur’s ODI captaincy but India have only lost one match in the format under her leadership so far.

Players to watch out for:

Smriti Mandhana: Smriti Mandhana was arguably India’s best batter over the last World Cup cycle and had a more than decent World Cup campaign too. She then led Maharashtra to the final of the Senior Women’s T20 Trophy.

Since then, she has had a curious dip in form. She got out after looking good in each of the Women’s T20 Challenge matches and her struggles have continued against Sri Lanka, a country where her performances have been below par historically too.

With Sri Lanka fielding a spin heavy attack, Mandhana has not gotten the pace that she enjoys and the wickets have also spun. Oshadi Ranasinghe has had the upper hand in their battle so far but Mandhana would want to make amends soon.

Inoka Ranaweera: One of the most experienced bowlers in the Sri Lanka outfit, Ranaweera has had the ball on a string right through the series. She has deceived the Indian batters in the flight as well off the pitch.

She picked six wickets in the T20I series and notched her career-best figures of 4-39 in the first ODI. Ranaweera well and truly rocked India’s chase by dismissing Shafali Verma, Kaur, Harleen Deol and Richa Ghosh.

Ranaweera has challenged both the edges of the bat. She trapped Kaur and Deol in front, while Verma was stumped and Ghosh was caught behind.

Numbers:

  • Harmanpreet Kaur became the second Indian batter after Mithali Raj to reach the 3000 runs mark in the first ODI.
  • Inoka Ranaweera’s figures of 4-39 are the joint-best by a Sri Lankan bowler against India in ODIs, along with Sugandika Kumari.
  • Deepti Sharma’s four Player of the Match awards are the joint-most against Sri Lanka in ODIs with four other players: Mithali Raj, Claire Taylor, Stafanie Taylor and Dane van Niekerk.

Predicted XI:

India’s batting was rickety yet again, while their bowlers were super impressive as they bowled Sri Lanka out with relative ease. India might look to give their out of form batters another opportunity with Yastika Bhatia putting in a fine display behind the stumps.

With the pitch taking significant turn, Sri Lanka might look to play four spinners yet again.

Sri Lanka: Hasini Perera, Chamari Athapaththu (c), Hansima Karunaratne, Harshitha Madavi, Kavisha Dilhari, Nilakshi de Silva, Oshadi Ranasinghe, Anushka Sanjeewani (wk), Rashmi de Silva, Inoka Ranaweera, Udeshika Prabodhani

India: Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Yastika Bhatia (wk), Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Harleen Deol, Richa Ghosh, Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar, Renuka Singh Thakur, Meghna Singh, Rajeshwari Gayakwad