Sri Lanka look to bank on momentum as India start new era in ODIs

Sri Lanka Team © Sri Lanka Cricket

The last time Sri Lanka played in an ODI against India, they chased down 253 runs to register their first victory of the 2017-2020 cycle of the ICC Championship. Kavisha Dilhari and Sripali Weerakkody held their nerve to take Sri Lanka over the line after Chamari Athapaththu scored her fourth international century. Incidentally, that was their only win of the entire World Cup cycle, and Sri Lanka had to go through the qualifying process for the World Cup in New Zealand. 

With the ODI series starting from July 1 in Pallekele, both teams have the opportunity to start afresh against each other in the 2022-25 round of the Championship.

What’s at stake?

For India, this is the beginning of a new era under the leadership of Harmanpreet Kaur. This will be her first ODI series as a full-time captain after the retirement of Mithali Raj. India’s bowling unit also looks different with Jhulan Goswami and Sneh Rana, who were part of India’s squad for the World Cup, missing out on the Sri Lanka Tour. In the absence of these players, the responsibility of the bowling attack is on the likes of Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Pooja Vastrakar. 

Sri Lanka, on the other hand, will play their first ODI series at home since March 2019. The team led by Athapaththu recently toured Pakistan for a three-match ODI series and won the final ODI by 93 runs. Captain Athapaththu and Harshitha Madavi were the standout performers for Sri Lanka, and those two players stood up again in the final T20I against India. That comprehensive win against India in the final T20I will boost the confidence of the home side as well. 

ALSO READ: What we learnt about India’s T20I side from the Sri Lanka series

Players to watch out for:

S Meghana: Despite her dazzling performance in the five-match ODI series against New Zealand, prior to the World Cup, S Meghana didn’t get the opportunity to represent India in the World Cup. She scored 114 runs in three innings with an average of 38 and a strike rate of 108.57. The right-handed batter also showed her class in the Women’s T20 Challenge, where she scored 73 runs off 47 balls. With the retirement of Raj, India is in search of a batter that can fill the void at number three.

Harshitha Madavi: The right-handed batter, who recently turned 24, was named the vice-captain of Sri Lanka for the series against India. In Sri Lanka’s win over Pakistan in the final ODI, Madavi shared the massive partnership of 152 runs with Athapaththu. She scored 75 runs to take Sri Lanka to their second-highest ODI score. She had a lean patch during the T20I series against India, but she has the capacity to bat for a longer time. 

What they said:

“Fitness is something I really want our team to improve. Skill-wise we always have our coaches around to help us out, but fitness is something I believe is very important for the player. And the second part is fielding. If you cover these two points, I think, you are the best side.”

– Harmanpreet Kaur, on her plans for Team India

“We want our side to play fearless cricket and express themselves. Our batters let us down in some of the games recently, but in the third game (T20I against India), I thought we were excellent in all three departments. That’s the kind of cricket we are expecting from our players.”

– Hashan Tillakaratne, Sri Lanka’s head coach on Sri Lanka’s approach to the ODI series

ALSO READ: Gunaratne has got the stones rolling for Sri Lanka

Numbers

  • Harmanpreet Kaur needs 18 runs to go past 3000 runs in ODIs, and become the second Indian player with 3000 runs in the format alongside Mithali Raj.
  • Smriti Mandhana needs 69 runs to go past Anjum Chopra and become India’s third-highest run-scorer in ODIs

Predicted XI

After a promising start in the T20I series, the 16-year-old opening batter Vishmi Gunaratne might get the opportunity to receive her debut cap in the ODI format. Sri Lanka would like to keep the core group intact and give them some match practice ahead of the Commonwealth Games. 

India’s playing XI will be different from the last time they played in the format. With the retirement of Raj and the absence of Goswami and Rana, India would like to give the opportunity to a young bowling attack in foreign conditions.  

Sri Lanka: Vishmi Gunaratne, Chamari Athapaththu (c), Nilakshi de Silva, Oshadi Ranasinghe, Harshitha Madavi, Kavisha Dilhari, Ama Kanchana, Anushka Sanjeewani (wk), Sugandika Kumari, Inoka Ranaweera, Udeshika Prabodhani

India: Shafali Verma, Smriti Mandhana, S Meghana, Yastika Bhatia (wk), Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar, Simran Dil Bahadur, Meghna Singh, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Renuka Singh Thakur