India captain Virat Kohli has some selection headaches when it comes to picking the on-field XI for the upcoming third and final Test against Sri Lanka, scheduled to be played at Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi on Saturday.
India lead 1-0, and need just a draw to clinch the three-match Test series, but Kohli for sure will go for the kill on his home ground.
The Indian team has three quality and in-form openers in the form of Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay and KL Rahul. With this being the last Test match before they head to South Africa, one expects Murali and Shikhar at the top, meaning Rahul might have to miss out.
Kohli also has to think about the team combination -- play five bowlers or stick with four. If he goes for the former, India will have to pick either Rohit Sharma, who scored a brilliant ton in the last match, or Ajinkya Rahane in the middle order. Both cannot play.
However, Kohli has been in favour of playing five regular bowlers in the past, and with Mohammed Shami back, India could field Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Shami as their premier pacers while Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin could lead the spin department.
Irrespective of who gets a chance to play in Delhi, India will start as favourites against the out-of-form Sri Lankan team.
To make matters worse, Sri Lanka are already without old warhorse Rangana Herath, who has injured his back. He has been replaced by leg-spinner Jeffrey Vandersay, who could get his debut in Delhi if Sri Lanka decide to play two spinners.
Dilruwan Perera is their other spinner and Vandersay's leggie can add much-needed variety in the attack. Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Gamage and Dasun Shanaka will still hold the key in the bowling department.
The likes of Sadeera Samarawickrama, who has only 36 runs in two Test matches, need to score runs at the top. Experienced players such as Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews and Lahiru Thirimanne need to shoulder more responsibility if they want to make a match out of the third Test.
The pitch in Delhi has some decent grass cover, and fast bowlers should get good purchase from the wicket. Though the grass might be somewhat reduced, the cold weather in Delhi will still support the seamers.
The pitch should be an ideal preparation for the home team for the upcoming tour of South Africa, where similar green pitches will be laid out.
Expected playing XI
India: Virat Kohli (C), Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami.
Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (C ) Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dimuth Karunaratne, Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Jeffrey Vandersay, Dilruwan Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Gamage and Dasun Shanaka