I had a little bit of time to spare on Monday afternoon, and so I settled onto my couch and put the cricket on the television.
India takes on Sri Lanka for a full series starting with the Test series on the 16th of November.
The series consists of three Tests, three ODIs and three T20’s. This is yet another series between two familiar opponents, which does not make sense due to the timing of the tour.
India and Sri Lanka have played 86 times – 15 Tests, 60 ODIs and 11 T20’s – over the last ten years. This is the most India has played against any opposition, with Australia coming a close second with 77 games over the same period of time.
This obviously includes the tri-series games and the other world tournaments the two teams have participated in.
These teams play each other so often that the upcoming series is probably one of the least anticipated by the fans of both countries. India has just been to Sri Lanka for a full tour and this series, less than two months since the earlier one, is overkill.
The fact Sri Lanka have stopped being competitive in Tests against India since 2010 has not added to the brand value of this matchup.
In the last 15 Tests the teams have played each other India have won nine and Sri Lanka have won four.
Sri Lanka is yet to win a Test in India and, going by their recent capitulation at home against the same opposition, it does not look good for the visitors this time around as well.
Sri Lanka has struggled to compete in other formats against India as well. In the 71 times these two have met in the shorter formats India have won 46 to Sri Lanka’s 22.
India tour South Africa later this year and it would have been prudent for the team to take a break from the non-stop cricket they have been playing. The tour seems to have been arranged without any planning and the series, which ends on December 24th, gives the team no rest before they fly off to South Africa.
India will play a tour game on the 30th before starting the tour with the first Test on the fifth of January.
With a schedule like that, no wonder captain Virat Kohli has requested for a break from the December leg of the Sri Lankan series.
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Coming back to the cricket itself, the Indian team does not have any surprises and the selectors have retained almost the same squad that played in Sri Lanka earlier this year.
Murali Vijay, who missed quite a lot of cricket due to injury, makes his comeback to the Test side. Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja also make a comeback after being dropped in the shorter formats.
The pace bowling attack remains with Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma.
It will be interesting to see who will open the batting for India. With Murali Vijay returning, India have to make a call as to who will open with him as KL Rahul has been phenomenal at the top for India over the last year or so while Shikhar Dhawan, since his comeback, has been brilliant as well.
There is a milestone coming up though for Indian star spinner Ravichandran Ashwin as he is just eight short of 300 Test wickets. He is also in line to become the fastest bowler ever to get there.
So, there is something to hold the interest of the Indian fans during this series.
BCCI and the Sri Lankan cricket board have a very cordial relationship, which might be the reason for the excessive amount of games played between the two sides.
Even though the fans of both countries aren’t very thrilled about these games, the boards of the two countries are, for sure, laughing all the way to the bank.