Gambhir’s return to boost India in third ODI (Preview)

August 23rd, 2008 - 7:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Aug 23 (IANS) After two low scoring games, the third ODI between India and Sri Lanka at the R. Premadasa Stadium here Sunday is expected to be a run feast.The focus, however, will be on Sri Lanka’s ace paceman Chaminda Vaas, who has recovered from a hamstring injury and is expected to play Sunday, having missed the second game Wednesday. Vaas requires one more wicket to join the elite club of Wasim Akram, Muttiah Muralitharan and Waqar Younis as the fourth player to have taken 400 ODI wickets.

India, who have been handicapped by injuries, will be happy with the return of opener Gautam Gambhir, who missed the last match due to a stiff neck.

India’s captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, though, did not reveal who will make way for Gambhir.

“We have not decided on the combination yet. We will decide in the morning whether we want to go with seven batsmen or five bowlers,” Dhoni told reporters here Saturday.

Either Irfan Pathan or middle order batsman Rohit Sharma will have to make way for the 26-year-old left-handed Gambhir, one of the few Indian players to have played Sri Lanka’s spinners well.

Form and injuries have been a worry for India, who lost the Test series 2-1. The tourists were looking to avenge the defeat in the ODIs but they suffered a major blows after Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag had to pull out with injuries.

“It’s disappointing to lose players like Sehwag and Sachin, but those injuries have given opportunities to some young players and they have shown their potential. I am really impressed with the fighting spirit shown by Badrinath and Virat Kohli,” Dhoni said.

Opening the innings, Kohli was the second highest scorer with 37 while Badrinath made an unbeaten 27 in the second ODI as India squared the five match series.

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene, meanwhile, said that he was thrilled for his ace paceman Vaas.

“Vaasy’s contribution to Sri Lankan cricket is massive, especially in sub-continental conditions. It’s not an easy task. Vaas and Murali have done the job for us for sometime and there are a few young guys coming through. But those two have been the role models.

Vaasy has been there for so long and 400 wickets is a great thing for anybody,” he added.

He also expected a run feast on the Premadasa wicket after two low-scoring games in Dambulla.

“It’s a different wicket, much firmer than what it used to be at Premadasa. The ball will probably come onto the bat. There will definitely be more runs. The wicket itself, I don’t think, will react very badly. The lights are very good and we have played a lot of cricket here,” Jayawardene maintained.

The fourth and fifth ODIs will also be day-night affairs at the R. Premadasa Stadium on Tuesday and Friday.

Sri Lanka (from) Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara (wicketkeeper), Chamara Kapugedara, Chamara Silva, Tillekeratne Dilshan, Chaminda Vaas, Nuwan Kulasekara, Thilan Tushara Mirando, Ajantha Mendis, Muttiah Muralitharan, Dilhara Fernando, Malinda Warnapura, Jehan Mubarak and Mahela Udawatte.

India (from) Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain and wicketkeeper), Subramaniam Badrinath, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Parthiv Patel, Irfan Pathan, Praveen Kumar, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Rudra Pratap Singh, Munaf Patel and Pragyan Ojha.

Umpires: Billy Doctrove (West Indies) and T.H. Wijewardene (Sri Lanka)
Third Umpire: Gamini Silva (Sri Lanka)
Match Referee: Chris Broad (England)

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