While the baton had passed on to him from Mahendra Singh Dhoni in Sydney, this is Kohli’s first full assignment in-charge after the one-off-Test in Bangladesh. Kohli has already promised to provide an aggressive brand of leadership and go into Test matches with five bowlers in a bid to take 20 wickets.

At Fatullah, he persisted with the five-bowler theory, and also brought back a Test stalwart - Harbhajan Singh - back to the side. If pre-series warm-up and practice sessions are anything to go by, in summation, all of the above points will continue to feature in Kohli’s strategy in this series as well.

With Murali Vijay ruled out of the first Test owing to a troublesome right hamstring since the Zimbabwe tour, Kohli will have his task cut out to bring in the young Lokesh Rahul into the playing eleven. At present, among the batsmen, only Ajinkya Rahane is untouchable and he fits in easily at number five. Rohit Sharma, Kohli himself and Wriddhiman Saha were off colour in the practice match.

Kohli was immaculate in the Test series Down Under, with four hundreds in as many matches. Since then, his limted-overs’ form tailed off, despite starting the World Cup with a hundred against Pakistan. He didn’t reach double digits in four ODIs prior to that match, and in ten matches afterwards, his highest score is 46.

In the absence of a head coach, Kohli is always seen supervising the practice drills under the watchful eyes of team director Ravi Shastri, a sign of his involvement with the young team. But the overdependance on Kohli in the middle-order is an area of concern for the visiting side. Rohit Sharma's lack of consistency is also a worrisome part in the line-up, especially with a player like Cheteshwar Pujara set to warm the bench.

But with the weather forecast of persistent cloud cover and rain throughout the week, it is expected that three spinners will not be picked in the eleven. Amit Mishra has only had a light workout since landing in Lanka. Despite the pitch showing signs of dryness while it was out for a little while in the sun on Monday, three pacers look to be the way forward.

Kohli banks on pace, so both Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron should be lining up alongside Ishant Sharma. Shastri too expressed his confidence in the pairing of Ravichandran Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh, sorting up India's lower-order.

As such, this team will be looking to win a first Test series on Lankan soil since 1993 when Mohammad Azharuddin led India to a 1-0 victory. Standing in their way will be Kumar Sangakkara as he looks to bid farewell to Test cricket, retiring after the second Test in Colombo.

There is an air of expectancy about the series, more in hope that a young Lankan team will rise to the occasion and send off arguably their greatest batsman in style. Sri Lanka will be under pressure after their 2-1 series loss to Pakistan preceding this contest, but their preparation has been far from optimal.

There was some chopping and changing during the Pakistan series, and some more names have been moved around this time as well, primarily in the bowling department owing to injuries. Shaminda Eranga and Suranga Lakmal are missing, while Dushmantha Chameera's fitness will be under scrutiny too.


Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha, R Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron.

Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (c), Lahiru Thirimanne, Kaushal Silva, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kumar Sangakkara, Dinesh Chandimal, Upul Tharanga, Jehan Mubarak, Kusal Perera, Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera, Tharindu Kaushal, Nuwan Pradeep, Dhammika Prasad, Vishwa Fernando, Dushmantha Chameera (subject to

Match starts at: 10am IST.

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