India will play Sri Lanka in their first ODI at the Barsapara Cricket Ground in Guwahati on Tuesday, January 10.
The match is scheduled to begin at 1.30 pm.
It follows the conclusion of the T20I series, which, after each side had won a match apiece, was clinched in decisive style by India in the third game in Rajkot on Saturday.
And, for both teams, it is the start of the preparations for the World Cup which India will be hosting later this year.
The World Cup
As hosts, India have already qualified for the World Cup by right. However, Sri Lanka have missed out because their performances over the current ODI cycle have not been good enough, and, if they want to be involved in the finals, then they are going to have to do it the hard way, through the World Cup qualifier tournament, which will be staged in Zimbabwe between June and July.
Head to Head
The two countries have played in ODI cricket each other 162 times before, and the current record shows 93 wins for India, 57 for Sri Lanka, and one tie. A further 11 matches ended with no result.
The last time they met in ODI cricket was when India toured Sri Lanka in the summer of 2021 for a white ball tour.
With all the ODI matches taking place in Colombo, India won the first match by 7 wickets, and the second by 3 wickets. Sri Lanka grabbed a consolation three wicket victory in the third game.
The pitch has a reputation of offering something to bowl the batters and the bowlers, though can be on the slow side, which may be of interest to the spinners. Scores then to be high on this ground, and it would be no surprise to see 350 or more in the first innings.
The big guns return
For India, having fielded a largely untested team in the T20I series, they are likely to play their big guns in this match, with Rohit Sharma returning as captain, and both Virat Kohli and KL Rahul back in the fold.
The latter will also don the wicketkeeping gloves in the absence of Rishabh Pant – who has had surgery on the injuries he suffered in a car crash before New Year – although he probably would not have played anyway after being dropped from the white ball side because of a lack of runs.
One man who may miss out is Suryakumar Yadav, despite scoring his third T20I century against Sri Lanka.
That may seem harsh in the extreme, but, at this stage in the proceedings, India are opting to go for their ODI specialists. However, should any of those stumble over their lines, he will surely be the next taxi on the rank.
There is also a choice to be made between Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal. The pitch would appear to favour the left-arm spin of Chahal, but he is often the fall guy as far as the Indian selectors are concerned, and they may prefer the bowling variety that Sundar offers, as well as the strength that he adds to the lower batting order.
Sri Lanka are expected to field much of the same team that featured for them in the T20I series, with the addition of fast bowler Lahiru Kumara.
Performances are key
This is the first of more than 20 ODIs that India will play before the start of the World Cup, and, even this early in the year, individual performances will be under the spotlight. Whilst this is also a chance to experiment with some batting and bowling combinations, there is little leeway for error.
There was widespread fall-out from India’s failure to reach either the final of the Asia Cup or T20I World Cup last year, and expectations on all involved in the India set-up have been set high for the World Cup.
Players to Watch
Away from the stablished names,, two players to watch in this series are Ishan Kishan and Axar Patel.
Kishan hit the fast double ODI century by an Indian against Bangladesh last month, and it is hoped he can be the answer to India’s long standing problem of starting their innings slowly in white ball cricket.
Meanwhile, Patel is fast developing into a world class spin all-rounder, and it will be hoped he can translate his fine T20I form into the longer format of the game.
India will start the clear favourites to win this match, especially as they have strengthened their team since the T20I series. Sri Lanka, though, will be hoping to at least make it competitive.
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