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Re-energised India targets series decider

Dhoni has to balance experimentation with playing for a win in Visakhapatnam; batting the biggest concern for Sri Lanka

Re-energised India targets series decider 
 - Cricket News
The win in Ranchi has put India's series and World T20 preparations back on track after a slight jolt.
Sri Lanka, aided by a lively pitch, stunned India in the first game of the three-match Twenty20 international series in Pune, but once the series shifted to more familiar conditions in Ranchi on Friday (February 12), India's might proved too much for the young Sri Lankan side. After a crushing 69-run win in the second game against a depleted Sri Lanka side, MS Dhoni's men are now back to being the favourite for the third and final game in Visakhapatnam on Sunday. 

The comprehensiveness of the win in Ranchi should please India. Its batsmen, who had struggled on a green track in Pune, were at their belligerent best. The charge was led by Shikhar Dhawan, who made a blazing half-century, with Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina playing their parts too. 

India also completed a successful experiment ahead of the ICC World T20 2016 by promoting Hardik Pandya. The allrounder went ahead of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh at No. 5 and made the most of the chance, smashing a 12-ball 27. 

If at all there is any concern, it is the little batting time for Yuvraj. He got to bat in only one game in Australia, failed in Pune, and had only seven balls remaining when he walked in in Ranchi, where he fell for a first-ball duck. Dhoni conceded that Yuvraj wasn't getting enough time but promised to give everyone exposure ahead of the big tournament. The everyone includes Ravindra Jadeja and Dhoni himself, for they too haven't had much to do with the bat in recent times.

"In the coming games, whenever we get some opportunity, we would like to give every player some kind of batting," said Dhoni after the second match. "Yuvi is slotted in at No. 5. It is difficult to get him to bat at a higher position than that. I will try to give him more opportunity in the upcoming games. But again we want to win games. That will also be our priority."

The bowling looks settled, which means Pawan Negi could have to wait for his debut unless India is willing to take a risk for the series decider.

Sri Lanka's bowlers conceded 196 runs in Ranchi but the team's bigger concern is the batting. Even in Pune, it showed signs of weaknesses despite chasing just 102 before Dinesh Chandimal and Chamara Kapugedera bailed the side out. 

Tillakaratne Dilshan returned to add experience for the second game but he did nothing, falling to R Ashwin for a first-ball duck. Sri Lanka desperately needs him to fire at the top and guide the youngsters around him. 

Only Chandimal and Kapugedera have showed signs of being comfortable, while Milinda Siriwardana and Dasun Shanaka displayed their hitting abilities for a brief while in one of the few positives for Sri Lanka from the previous game.

The win in Ranchi has put India's series and World T20 preparations back on track after a slight jolt. It will be interesting to see how it juggles experimentation and playing for a win, especially with the series on the line. All this, while Sri Lanka hopes to stun the home side again.

Teams (from):

India: MS Dhoni (capt, wk), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Manish Pandey, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra, Harbhajan Singh, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Pawan Negi.

Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (capt, wk), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Seekkuge Prasanna, Milinda Siriwardana, Dhanushka Gunathilaka, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Asela Gunaratne, Chamara Kapugedara, Chameera Dushmantha, Dilhara Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Shaminda Eranga, Sachithra Senanayake, Jeffrey Vandersay.

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