Battles to watch out for in the third Test at Pallekele

By Krunal Gandhi, MyCricketHighlights Cricket Writer

Interesting battles to watch out for in the third Test at Pallekele on Aug 12 - 16, 2017

On one hand, India will look to rewrite the history books by registering their first ever whitewash on a foreign soil by a 3-0 margin in 85 years; and on the other hand, Sri Lanka would like to avoid the humiliation of getting whitewashed in their own backyard by winning the dead rubber. The last and the only time Sri Lanka were whitewashed in their home was by Australia in 2004.
With two of their regular bowlers (Rangana Herath and Nuwan Pradeep) out due to injury, their chances of winning the final Test and preventing the whitewash has faded even more. India will also be without the services of Ravindra Jadeja, who has been handed a one match suspension. However, this will provide an opportunity to some exciting talents from both the sides and they will like to make it count.

Let us take a look at some interesting battles between bat and ball that can provide the thrills of a Test match –

Virat Kohli vs. Dushmanth Chameera: With the lanky Sri Lankan pacer coming back into the side, he can surely create some problems for the Indian skipper. Recently, Kohli has had some tough times against the short ball and he has been found wanting against the West Indies bowlers and also against Nuwan Pradeep in the first Test. Chameera is a skiddy customer and can bowl consistently at over 140 Kph – which can be more than handful to get Kohli out hooking or pulling.

Kusal Mendis vs. Kuldeep Yadav: With Ravindra Jadeja out of the third Test due to a one match ban, Kuldeep Yadav will get his opportunity to play at Pallekele. Kuldeep has certainly got some skills up his sleeves and has impressed one and all in the ODIs against West Indies. It’ll be interesting to see what approach Kusal Mendis will imply against the chinaman bowler. In the second innings of the second Test, it was Mendis who initiated the counter-attacking approach against the Indian spinners and swept them for boundaries. Only time will tell whether Mendis can bat in a similar fashion against Kuldeep or will the spinner trap him with the help of his tricks.

Dimuth Karunaratne vs. Ravichandran Ashwin: This can be another fascinating battle between bat and ball. Ashwin has a spectacular average against the left-handers and has got the knack of picking up the wickets with the new ball. He might open the attack if the pitch is conducive to spinners and can cause trouble to Karunaratne early on. In the last match also, he was able to get him out in the slips and went past the outside edge on a number of occasions in the second innings. However, the opener stood his ground firm and scored a fantastic 141 in difficult circumstances.

Cheteshwar Pujara vs. Sri Lankan bowlers: If there is one batsman whom the hosts would like to get out early, then it is Pujara. He has been rock-solid as ever and has scored runs in plenty in the two matches so far. He has been also involved in two marathon partnerships – first with Dhawan and then with Rahane – that helped India to pile up two massive first innings total. Three hundreds and four fifties including a double hundred in his last 7 matches speak volumes about the kind of form Pujara is in. It’ll need a team effort from the Sri Lankan bowlers to dismiss the (current) best Indian Test batsman cheaply.

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