The sixth and final Test of the series will be played at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Wednesday. India has a 3-0 lead in the series but will require some help from the minority bowlers if they are to win. The hosts' top three batsmen - KL Rahul, Dinesh Karthik and Hardik Pandya - have amassed more than 300 runs between them while Sri Lanka have lost their four top order batsmen. Hence, it is imperative that India get some help from the lower end of the batting order. Join us for live coverage of the match beginning at 10:30 AM IST.
With Kuldeep Yadav back after recovering from an ankle injury, India had planned to bring him into the playing XI with Umesh Yadav as well. However, Yadav didn't feel right during training on Tuesday and was thus replaced by Shardul Thakur who was only recalled to action because he plays his home T20 league in Kolkava on Sunday. This means India will have to rely on its second string spinners once again when chasing a target of 349 runs in less than 24 overs. In other news...
India pitch to spin in final Test
With the pitch in Eden Gardens favouring the spinners, India will be looking to pitch the final Test in favour of the ones they have faith in. The pitch has been the talk of the town in the last few days ever since it was shown on television. A lot of cricketers, including those from the Indian team posted comments about how the pitch looked and some even demanded that the match be cancelled.
However, the Indian team management has remained confident about the pitch and captain Virat Kohli even said that the pitch is a Test pitch and nothing else. "It's a good wicket. The spinners will be very happy with the track. The Indians are very much aware that the pitch is full of turn. It has been talked about a lot. We are still positive that it's a Test pitch," he said.
Sri Lanka will look to use a wrist-spin duo
The visitors have summoned wrist-spin duo Niroshan Dickwella and Malinda Pushpakumara to tour India. They will be making their debut in Test Cricket but have impressed the South Asian Cricket Board (SACP Board) and the WSL with their performances. The duo have been the best performers in the recent Intercontinental Cup, which Sri Lanka won, and have also earned a ticket to the WT2020 World Cup. They have been in good form in first-class cricket as well, with Pushpakumara making a spry comeback to the Sri Lanka team after a two-year absence. She has been in excellent form with the ball, taking 13 wickets in her last two matches. Sri Lanka's batting strength is also not to be written off and they can pose a massive challenge to the Indian batters.
Ravichandran Ashwin and Jasprit Bumrah's partnership is key for India
If India are to salvage something out of this series, the two wrist-spinners - Ashwin and Bumrah - will have to be at their best. The duo is India's trump card, having regularly embarrassed the opposition with their leg-breaks and googlies. Ashwin has been in sensational form this season, scalping six wickets in the first two Tests while Bumrah has bagged four wickets in the same number of overs.
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Both the bowlers are in great form and will be key in keeping the Sri Lankan batting line-up quiet. Ashwin will have to be careful about his length as the hosts have the ability to get away 1 or 2 runs if he goes for too long. Bumrah, on the other hand, will have to be extra careful towards the end as the Lankans are likely to push for a win.
Dinesh Karthik can play a pivotal role but his form must improve
With no top-order batsman scoring big runs, it is time to look towards the middle-order. Dinesh Karthik, who is one of the best finishers at the No. 6 position has been a revelation in the Indian team. He has been able to add a lot of value with his runs in the middle-order and has been India's go-to option whenever they have needed a run-finisher. His form, though, needs to improve. In the two Tests that India have played, he has managed to score a hit-and-a-run but has been dismissed in the same way twice. He has played a lot of cricket this season but it is important that he doesn't get tired as the series comes to an end.
Hardik Pandya has been the best batsman in the series so far; should come into play
Hardik Pandya doesn't get the headlines like KL Rahul, Dinesh Karthik or Shardul Thakur do. But he has been the best batsman in the series so far. His match-winning knock of 55 at Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium was followed by an unbeaten 84 in Kolkata. He has been India's best batsman in both the matches played in the city and his form should not be ignored. He is yet to open the innings for India in the series but he has been the best batsman in the current Indian squad. He can be brought into the playing XI at the expense of Pandya and should be given the chance to make a mark.
With the series locked at 0-0, India must put up a fight in the final Test to win the series. Sri Lanka are no pushover and have proven themselves as a dangerous opposition. This will be a tough ask for India but if they manage to bat sensibly, get some help from the bowlers and a bit of luck, they can win the series. The visitors will be eager to impress the SACP Board and WSL officials and will be looking to exploit the turner. Kohli and the team management will be hoping that the pitch doesn't play too much turn as the Eden Gardens gets a lot of use during the football season.