Spotlight on KL Rahul as India aim for series whitewash against Sri Lanka in Colombo

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KL Rahul has not had the best of times so far in the ODI series.

Virat Kohli’s India will be looking to complete their second whitewash of the Sri Lankan tour when they take on the islanders in the final ODI of the five-match series at Colombo on Wednesday.

Almost everything the visitors have touched this tour has turned into gold with dominant displays in every match as Sri Lanka have found it tough to find an answer to the marauding Indians.

Going into Sunday with a 4-0 lead, Kohli and co will be looking to experiment with the team combinations in the absence of any pressure.

There will however, be a slight amount of pressure for Indian batsman KL Rahul when he pads up to the crease at the Premadasa stadium.

The stylish Karnataka player has not had the best of series with the bat in the limited-overs format but the performance of the unit has a whole has meant that Rahul’s meagerly contributions have not made much of a difference.

The India Test opener has yet to consolidate his place for the Men in Blue in the 50-over format with only nine innings played so far in his fledgling career.

He introduced himself with a bang after scoring a century on debut against Zimbabwe in 2016 but has scored only a single score over 50 in the innings to come since then.

Indeed, in his last six innings, he’s notched only a miserly 52 runs for India in ODIs and has particularly struggled against Sri Lanka’s young-spinner Akila Dananjaya in the ongoing series.

Rahul has been dismissed thrice in a row by Sri Lankan spinner Akila Dananjaya.

Rahul has been dismissed thrice in a row by Sri Lankan spinner Dananjaya.

Rahul has fallen prey to the youngster in each of his three innings in the series where he has a highest score of just 17.

His form in the limited-overs set-up has been in stark contrast to his Test showings where he recently became the first Indian batsman to score seven consecutive half-centuries.

Rahul missed the first Test against the hosts due to a fever but scored a half-century each of the following two games to register the record.

With the likes of Manish Pandey and Ajinkya Rahane knocking on the doors, the 25-year-old Rahul will need to step up soon if he wants to secure a place in the side come the 2019 ICC World Cup.

Shikhar Dhawan’s absence for Sunday’s game means the right-handed batsman could even take up the opener’s slot where he has flourished in the Test set-up.

For now, Rahul still has it all to prove as he seeks to transfer his Test form to white-ball cricket.

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Shikhar Dhawan set to miss Colombo ODI and T20 clashes as he returns home to be with ailing mother

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Shikhar Dhawan will return home on Sunday to be with his ailing mother.

India limited-overs opener Shikhar Dhawan is set to miss the final ODI and lone T20 clash between India and Sri Lanka as he will return home to be with his ailing mother.

The BCCI has said in a statement that the left-handed batsman will be returning home on Sunday and that no replacement would be named to take his spot.

Dhawan has had a great time in Sri Lanka in the Test and limited-overs clashes as India have won every single match on the tour so far.

He scored a smashing 132 in the first ODI at Dambulla to guide the visitors to a nine-wicket victory. The Delhi-born batsman has 190 runs so far in the series which makes him the third highest run-getter in the series.

Dhawan had been given a second-life in Test cricket after he was drafted into India’s squad for the Sri Lanka tour after an injury to regular opener Murali Vijay.

The left-hander had scored a match-winning 132 runs in the first ODI at Dambulla.

Dhawan scored a match-winning 132 runs in the first ODI at Dambulla.

The left-handed star made the most of the fortuitous opportunity as he ended the three-match series as the highest run-scorer with 358 runs.

Dhawan scored a whirlwind 190 off just 235 deliveries in the first Test at Galle as India romped home to a 304-run victory.

The batsman scored another century in the final Test at Kandy where he hit 119 in the first innings as India swept the series 3-0 courtesy of an innings and 171-run victory.

Dhawan had joined his teammates in attending a lavish dinner hosted by Lankan pacer Lasith Malinga on Friday which was also attended by the host team.

Sri Lanka will look to avoid a 5-0 whitewash when they take on India in the final ODI at the R. Premadasa stadium in Colombo on Sunday. The two sides will then play out a lone T20 clash on Wednesday to complete India’s tour of the island nation.

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Forgotten man Karun Nair looks to the future as triple-century for India becomes a distant memory

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Karun Nair has endured a difficult time since scoring the famous triple-ton.

It has been exactly 256 days since Karun Nair became only the second Indian in history to hit a triple-ton in Test cricket.

The Karnataka batsman scored a masterful unbeaten 303 off just 381 deliveries in Chennai as India beat the visiting England by over an innings in the fifth Test late last year.

Since then the 25-year-old has played two more Tests for the country in the 2-1 series win over Steve Smith’s Australia earlier this year.

Such are the highs and lows of cricket that a combined total of 54 runs in those four innings meant that Nair slipped away from the fringes of the Indian team back to the grind of domestic cricket.

The middle-order batsman was not picked in the squad for the recently concluded Test whitewash of Sri Lanka and so huge is the competition for a berth in the Indian batting line-up that the famous triple-century has become a distant memory so soon.

So dire were Nair’s performance with the bat post the triple-ton that his innings of 39 for Delhi Daredevils against the Sunrisers Hyderabad was his highest score in the 18 innings across all formats since that famous day in Chennai.

The most damning statistic for the classical right-handed batsman is that he has 374 runs in his seven Test innings so far with 303 of them coming in that special innings.

While Virat Kohli’s men were sweeping the Test series against Sri Lanka, Nair was in South Africa on a tour with the India A team.

The Jodhpur-born man was given the captaincy of the A squad and his fighting 90 in the second Test against South Africa A helped the Indians level the two-match series at 1-1.

For now the road back to the Indian team lies once again in the domestic circuit for Nair who still has plenty of time on his side.

The ability to score triple-centuries seemed to come naturally to Nair who broke the record for the highest individual score in a Ranji Trophy final, scoring 328 in Karnataka’s win over Tamil Nadu in 2015.

The Delhi Daredevils man is currently gearing up to represent Mysuru Warriors in the Karnataka Premier League (KPL), the T20 league back in his home state.

In an interview with the Times of India, the Karnataka batsman was asked if he felt the triple-ton against England had become an overbearing thought.

“Yes, it is getting to a point that I want to tell people to move on because I have bigger and better things to look forward to,” replied Nair.

“I don’t think about it when I’m on the ground because I just shut out everything else and concentrate on my game. But sometimes it does cloud the mind, especially during a lean patch. So, I often tell myself, ‘I’ve worked very hard to get those 303 runs and nobody can take that away from me, so, I have to shut out conversations and concentrate on achieving bigger goals,” he added.

While the cloud of that memorable innings might be hard to shake off in the near future for the talented batsman, he is now fully concentrating on making a return to the Indian national set-up.

It will be interesting to keep an eye on him as he battles it out in the various domestics competitions in the coming months.

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