India target rare hat-trick

Dhonis men take on Lanka today; Tendulkar expected to return

Since their arrival in Australia nearly two months ago, India have managed to stitch together two wins in a row for the first time last week, and they will be aiming to extend their good run when they face Sri Lanka here on Tuesday.

India had beaten Sri Lanka in Perth, and then overcame a few nervy moments in Adelaide to score a four-wicket win over Australia, their tormentors throughout the summer. Now, India have a definite edge over the Islanders going into Tuesday’s match, and will be further bolstered by the return of Sachin Tendulkar.

Tendulkar, who has been stranded on 99 international hundreds since scoring a century against South Africa at the World Cup, was rested against Australia on Sunday as per the rotation policy for senior players.

It’s the turn of Virender Sehwag to take rest, and Tendulkar will in all likelihood replace the Delhi Dasher, who has been going through a horror run during this tour.
The most heartening aspect of the back-to-back Indian wins was the performance of their bowlers, who seemed to have regained their rhythm. Against Australia, the Indian bowling unit, barring offie R Ashwin, bowled like a well-knit unit to restrict the hosts to 269, and it was a commendable effort by any stretch of the imagination on a flat pitch. Opening batsman Gautam Gambhir said the consecutive victories have raised the morale of the team.

“A winning dressing room is far better than a losing dressing room because it is easier to motivate players. It’s a happy environment. When you start winning, you start believing a lot that you can actually do well in a tournament. It’s not that there was lack of motivation in the dressing room during the Test series. There was no lack of effort as well during Tests, just that things didn’t go our way. But yes, certainly there’s some new belief and confidence now after two wins,” Gambhir said.

Now, they will require an encore against Sri Lanka, who are yet to hit top gear in this tournament. The main cause for worry them is the lean form of their senior batsmen – skipper Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan.
The troika is yet to fire in this series, and that has affected the volume of their total. But Sangakkara said Sri Lanka would like to exploit India’s vulnerable nature away from home.

“Our strength has always been playing India away from India. India are always strong in India, with the smaller grounds and conditions they are used to. But away from home, we have always done very well against them,” Sangakkara said.
But with India in such a confident mood, it will require more than the backing of belief and theories to beat them.

Teams (from):
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, R Ashwin, Praveen Kumar, Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav, Irfan Pathan, R Vinay Kumar, Rahul Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, Parthiv Patel.

Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakkara, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Rangana Herath, Chanaka Welegedara, Dhammika Prasad, Farveez Maharoof, Sachithra Senanayake, Lahiru Thirumanne, Thilan Samaraweera.

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