Colombo, Aug 2 (IANS) In-form India will look to inflict another defeat on Sri Lanka and seal the three-Test series when the two sides clash in the second rubber at the Sinhalese Sports Club here on Thursday.
India scripted a rampaging 304-run victory in the first Test with opener Shikhar Dhawan making a strong case for himself with regular openers Lokesh Rahul and Murali Vijay, left out injured.
The Delhi southpaw smashed a 168-ball 190 in the first innings to steer India to a mammoth total of 600 and help it take a firm grip on the match, which eventually they never let go.
Dhawan was adjudged Man-of-the-Match and that leaves skipper Virat Kohli with a happy headache of chosing between Dhawan, Abhinav Mukund and Rahul, who is back into the reckoning.
Mukund also scored a crafty 81 in the second essay which had Kohli’s unbeaten 103. Rahul, who laid low in the first Test with viral fever, has now recovered and if he is successful in proving his fitness for this Test, the toss-up will be between Dhawan and Mukund for the second opener’s slot.
It is unlikely that Mukund will get a look in, owing to Dhawan’s form.
At No.3 is the ever-dependable Cheteshwar Pujara, who scored a patient 153 off 265 balls at Galle. He will be eager to repeat his performance in what will be his career’s 50th Test.
On his Test debut, all-rounder Hardik Pandya notched up a quick-fire half-century in the first essay and in just three overs given to him, scalped the wicket of Nuwan Pradeep.
The Indian spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin got on to the act again, taking six wickets between them in the second innings to wipe off any resemblance of a challenge from the hosts.
For the hosts, it will be an uphill task ahead. The good news is that their skipper Dinesh Chandimal has recovered from pneumonia and will be available for this Test.
Chandimal had put the Indian attack to the sword with a blistering 162 off 169 balls at Galle in 2015 and will look to repeat more of the same here.
In the bowling department, Pradeep was the only positive the island nation can take from the first Test as the pacer took six wickets in the first essay and bowled really well.
Left-handed batsman Lahiru Thirimanne was also recalled for the second Test as a replacement for injured Asela Gunaratne, who suffered a fractured thumb in the first Test.
Thirimanne has been out of the Test team for more than a year and has also not featured in the traditional format since playing against England in June 2016.
The home side will also hope veteran left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, who looked pedestrian in the first match, will deliver against a strong Indian line-up.
India: Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli(captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha(wicketkeeper), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Abhinav Mukund, Rohit Sharma, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav.
Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne, Upul Tharanga, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal(captain), Angelo Mathews, Lahiru Thirimanne, Niroshan Dickwella (wicketkeeper), Dilruwan Perera, Rangana Herath, Nuwan Pradeep, Lahiru Kumara, Lakshan Sandakan, Danushka Gunathilaka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Vishwa Fernando, Malinda Pushpakumara.