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Hardik Pandya, Danushka Gunathilaka in line for debuts in Galle Test

26 Juillet 2017

This is Ravi Shastri's first assignment as India's head coach in his second stint. R Sridhar will continue as the fielding coach of the side. Both his top scores have come in Galle - 162 not out against India, and 151 against West Indies. Watching the Sri Lankan team at training, it is hard to discern one quick bowler from another, one wiry batsmen from the previous one, so anonymous are these players.

The Lankans, after suffering an embarrassing ODI series defeat to Zimbabwe, avoided further humiliation when they pulled out a nervy victory in the one-off Test match, but this is a side in serious transition.

Also, you need to understand, the last time we felt in the first Test that we played here (in Galle in 2015), we probably were a batsman short and the fifth bowler didn't do much in the game. Fifteen matches have ended in a draw. India has won 83 of them, 55 have been won by Sri Lanka, 11 matches have yielded no result, and one match was tied.

India start their 2017-18 season with a gruelling tour of Sri Lanka where they play three Tests, five ODIs and a one-off Twenty20 worldwide.

India: Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

The Indian squad is more balanced than their counter-parts. And India will remember how the same opposition shocked them in the Champions Trophy, albeit in a different format.

Despite their recent form, Sri Lanka beat Australia a year ago 3-0 at home.

Shastri and Kohli get along well. He was then Team Director then and now is the newly-appointed coach with his own set of support staff, that includes Bharat Arun's return as the bowling coach.

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India will be missing KL Rahul, who is down with viral fever.

"Last time, he was here in Galle and we lost the Test and he really picked all of us from that low point on our careers, and he is someone who can have a positive influence in the dressing room". Once they step on the field they take over. Lack of a stable opening pair could hurt India. We have come a long way from that tour. The wrecker-in-chief on that occasion was Herath, who took seven for 48, and is now the makeshift captain of the Lankan team in the absence of new Test skipper Dinesh Chandimal, whose 162 triggered the remarkable comeback for the hosts. Rangana Herath will be standing in for him. None of them have enough captaincy experience. He was a great eye opener for us we worked on those things in the next two games. Expect India to play 6-5 combination.

At a glance, Sri Lanka's recent home record is not so bad.

"KL is a very established player for us, a very solid player".

A Test series loss would mean India slip one spot in the Test ranking. Besides, with so many developing players in their XI nothing is ever written in stone for Sri Lanka. If Kohli does pick five bowlers, there is no doubt he will go in with an extra spinner in Kuldeep Yadav. But Mukund did not perform well in the warm-ups, he was out for a golden duck.

Sri Lanka have always prided themselves at encouraging individuality, from the freakishly original action of Muralitharan to the cathartic burst of Lasith Malinga's delivery stride. So he will get back in a few days. The team is making a fresh start with the goal to win the 2019 World Cup.

"Thinking in a certain way, training in a certain way and coming together as a team in a certain way".

Hardik Pandya, Danushka Gunathilaka in line for debuts in Galle Test