After comprehensively winning the first Test in 4 days, the Indian team will look to clinch the three-match series against Sri Lanka with another victory in the second Test, beginning at the SSC ground in Colombo from Wednesday. Victory in the second Test will ensure that the Indian team registers back-to-back series wins in the Emerald Isles for the first time in history.
Here’s a look at 5 factors to keep an eye on at Colombo:
Kohli back amongst runs
Virat Kohli came into the Sri Lanka series with no fifty from his last 6 Test innings. In the first innings, the Indian captain failed again getting out to a pull shot. However, the skipper got his act together in the second innings, as he looked in total control from the start. He opened his account with a beautiful shot through the cover region and never looked back. Hitting 5 fours and 1 six, Kohli scored his 17th Test century to take his Test average past 50. He is the only batsmen in the modern era to have an average of more than 50 in all three formats.
50th Test for Cheteshwar Pujara
The Colombo Test will be the 50th for Cheteshwar Pujara! Scoring 3966 runs with an average of 52.18, Pujara has been solid as a rock for the team. His 153 in the first innings was as important as Dhawan’s 190 as it gave a solid base for the team. Hailing from Rajkot, Pujara made his debut against Australia in 2010 and has scored 12 Test hundreds till now. The No.3 batsman has scored 3 double centuries to his name with a highest score of 206* (against England). ‘Che’, as he is affectionately addressed by his teammates, has fond memories of this ground. On his last visit here in 2015, he made a comeback to the Test side and struck a match-winning hundred in the first innings and help India to a 2-1 series win.
After missing the first Test with a viral fever, opener KL Rahul will be making a comeback to the Test side. Virat Kohli, in his press conference earlier in the day, made it clear that either of Shikhar Dhawan or Abhinav Mukund will have to sit out of the second Test. Dhawan won the Man-of-the-Match award for his whirlwind innings of 190 in the first innings. Mukund, meanwhile, played a resolute knock of 81 in the second essay. Who will get the final nod, we will have to wait and watch!
The abundance of All-rounders
With Hardik Pandya make his Test debut at Galle, Team India played with 3 all-rounders in the team. While Ravichandran Ashwin made 47 and picked up 4 wickets in the match, Ravindra Jadeja sent back 6 batsmen to the pavilion. Pandya impressed as well with a 50 in his first outing as a Test batsman. He picked up a wicket too in the first innings.
Sri Lanka didn’t had the perfect start to the Galle Test as Asela Gunaratne had to leave the field on the first day itself. Things got worse for them with stand-in-skipper Rangana Herath injuring his finger after bowling just 9 overs in the second innings. The experienced players like Herath, Angelo Mathews, Upul Tharanga and newly appointed Test captain Dinesh Chandimal will have to take up the responsibility and perform. If India decide to include Kuldeep Yadav in the starting XI, the Lankans would find it more difficult. The Chinaman bowler has been impressive in his short career and can be a great threat to the slightly inexperienced batting line-up.
PC - ESPNCricinfo