India would aim to seal the Test series against Sri Lanka for the second time in a calendar year when they kick-off the third and final Test at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Saturday. After a heavy defeat in Nagpur, the struggling Lankans team would want to salvage some pride in final Test in Delhi.
Here is the predicted XI for the game :
Shikhar Dhawan - The southpaw was unavailable for the second Test owing to personal reasons but it hardly mattered for the hosts, thanks to Murali Vijay who marked his return with a century. After the first innings at the Eden Gardens, where hardly any batsman survived the onslaught, Dhawan took his chance well in the second and India would want him to stay sharp in the longest format ahead of the brutal test in South Africa next year.
Murali Vijay - Though it took some terrible Sri Lankan fielding, which included two missed catching opportunities and a run-out, for Vijay to get his century, he has pretty much assured his place in the Test squad once again with a classy knock. KL Rahul’s failure in the Nagpur Test also helps his cause massively.
Cheteshwar Pujara - If there is one player in the Indian squad who has his place cemented in the Test squad, it’s the Saurashtrian batsman. His gritty 52 in the Kolkata Test reflected his months of toil with county side Nottinghamshire, and his shot selection was praised by everyone. Ahead of 2018, when India visit Australia, England and South Africa, the team management would want him to polish himself as much as possible.
Virat Kohli - With the skipper getting rest in the limited-overs series following the Test series, Kohli would want to end the year on a good note while statisticians remain busy to see what record he might break this time. He has been unstoppable this year and Sri Lanka would hope that they are spared his wrath this time.
Ajinkya Rahane - The Mumbaikar has been in a terrible rut so far in the series, which is quite surprising given the fierce form he had during ODI series against Australia. However, as his personal coach Pravin Amre believes, he is just one shot away from getting back his form, the Indian would sincerely hope he gets it given his quintessence in India’s middle order.
Wriddhiman Saha - Saha hasn’t been tested much in the ongoing series, neither behind not in front of the stumps. However, he shouldn’t take his position for granted just for the wicket-keeping responsibilities and continue to falter with the bat. He has just 34 runs in three innings so far and will hope to get things going this time.
Ravichandran Ashwin - After the massive feat of becoming the fastest player to reach 300 wickets, Ashwin will be India’s leading bowler on a docile Delhi track, which has been described quite similar to Nagpur by Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal. After not getting any action in Kolkata, Ashwin managed a magnificent eight-wicket haul in the second Test.
Ravindra Jadeja - Jadeja has been equally effective. He managed five wickets in the second Test and one cannot forget his ability to get quick runs with the bat. The fact that this game is likely to be the last game for the duo before the South Africa series, also makes his selection necessary.
Ishant Sharma - After not getting picked in the Kolkata Test ahead of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the Delhi pacer left the squad to play at the same venue where India will kick off tomorrow. However, he came back with a bang in Nagpur, running through the Sri Lankan batting order easily with a five-wicket haul in two innings. With Bhuvi still unavailable, Ishant is a sure pick and will lead India’s attack.
Mohammed Shami - Shami missed the second Test due to an injury but had a brilliant second innings spell in the Kolkata Test, where his brilliant figures of 2/34 alongside Bhuvi’s 4/8 had almost won India the game. Like Ishant Sharma, he too is unlikely to feature in the ODI and T20I series following the third Test and should get one last chance in 2017 to ply his trade at the international level before leaving for South Africa.
Umesh Yadav - Though Umesh Yadav hasn’t been very effective in the ongoing Test series, managing only five wickets in four innings, the old ball specialist will be India’s most lethal option in South Africa and India are unlikely to bench him for the last Test. Like the previous two bowlers, Yadav, too, faces the improbability of not playing in the limited-over series which makes his selction a no brainer.