The islanders are searching for their maiden Test win on Australian soil and come into the series on the back of a 1-0 defeat at the hands of New Zealand.
Sri Lanka have been watching their subcontinent rivals India closely in their recent tour of Australia where Virat Kohli and his men engineered the country’s maiden Test series win Down Under.
Ahead of their battle against the Aussies, bowling coach Rumesh Ratnayake revealed that Sri Lanka had been following the exploits of Jasprit Bumrah and Co to prepare for the Test series.
“It’s one of the major things we looked at, the areas which they (India) had bowled,” Ratnayake was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.
“It’s just making the bowlers believe that whatever their bowlers can do and the other teams can do, we also can do. That belief is something we are trying to work on at the moment,” he added.
India triumphed 2-1 in the four-match Test series against the Aussies and Ratnayake is hoping to emulate their display in all three departments.
“In batting and bowling, and even in the fielding, the Indians showed the world every place they go to is a home-from-home. I believe we can take that from the Indians. We came here with the motto to win a Test match – we are going to New Zealand, Australia and South Africa so we would love to win a Test match in a country and Australia is one of them,” the bowling coach explained.
Sri Lanka will have to make without the services of their star batsman Angelo Mathews against Tim Paine and his men after he injured his hamstring in the recent tour of New Zealand.
India drew the T20 series in Australia before recording their maiden Test series win Down Under with a 2-1 victory. The Men in Blue then followed it up with a 2-1 victory in the ODI series as well to bring a successful wrap to the tour.
Following the historic feat, India’s players and coaching personnel had been given significant cash bonuses for their performances.
On Tuesday, the BCCI awarded each of the five Indian selectors a cash bonus of $28,000 for their selections for the team’s tour of Australia.
“The five men have played a crucial role in picking a balanced Indian squad and offering the team management enough options to work around different combinations,” Committee of Administrators (CoA) chief Vinod Rai was quoted as saying by AFP.
“The boys chosen to represent the Indian team went about their task in a fearless manner and stood up in challenging situations,” Rai added.
CoA member and former India women’s skipper Diana Edulji too took the opportunity to praise India’s selection panel headed by MSK Prasad.
“Each member who has played a role in India’s recent triumphs in Australia needs to be appreciated,” she stated.
After dispatching Australia in their own backyard, India will be looking to do the same to their Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand as the two sides get ready to meet in a five-match ODI series beginning on Wednesday at Napier.
The hosts are brimming with confidence themselves after a recent 3-0 clean sweep over Sri Lanka and have key batsmen like Ross Taylor and skipper Kane Williamson in excellent form.
With New Zealand’s batting order looking rock solid, India skipper Virat Kohli has asked his team to be prepared to chase 300 plus targets in the series.
“You see New Zealand have the ability to make the game high-scoring, so the key is to not panic when you see 300 posted regularly. You just have to back yourself as a batting group to get those runs or set a big target when you’re batting first,” Kohli said on the eve of the first ODI.
The visitors will have recent history against them in New Zealand with their last five ODI series in the country ending in four defeats and one tie. The last time India played an ODI series in the country, they were handed a 0-4 thrashing in a five-match series.
Kohli, was a part of the losing squad led by MS Dhoni, believes India have learned their lessons from that defeat.
“We’ve seen a lot of things that happened in the last series in New Zealand, the patterns and the areas the guys were looking to get us out,” the India star stated.
“We were probably not an experienced side back then in terms of batting together. If you see the last three years or so we have evolved as a batting group, we are more aware of our abilities,” he added.
It was a day to savour for the India skipper who swept the big three prizes at the ICC Awards as he became the first man in history to win the trifecta of the Cricketer of the Year, Men’s ODI Player of the Year and the Men’s Test Player of the Year in the same calendar year.
Kohli came in for some praise from his New Zealand counterpart Kane Williamson who was wary of focussing on just the India skipper in the series.
“Obviously a world class player, Virat, and he’s always a challenge to come up against and is someone who is most admired in terms of how he goes about his cricket and he’s formidable in his run scoring. Definitely a player of note,” said Williamson.
“There’s so many quality players in that side so although he is world class, you don’t want to get too consumed around one individual because there’s a number of match winners in their side. You focus on the opposition as a whole,” he continued.
New Zealand beat India by 24 runs the last time both sides met in an ODI at Napier in January, 2014.