India would hope to continue their momentum to secure berth in the semi-final    AFP
India would hope to continue their momentum to secure berth in the semi-final AFP

To lose a player to suspension is a setback in itself. When the said player happens to be your captain, the team’s misery only gets compounded. Upul Tharanga’s two-game suspension for over-rate offences is bound to hurt the team as it prepares to take on a pumped-up India at The Oval in London on Thursday.

The islanders do not boast a great team, and Tharanga’s absence will hurt them immensely. With first-choice captain Angelo Mathews injured, it was left to Tharanga to stand in for him but now he has left a void. Let’s not forget the upcoming game is extremely crucial from Sri Lanka’s point of view because the team has already lost to South Africa and faces a must-win situation against the defending champion.

Let’s talk about Team India now. India will carry a lot of positives into Thursday’s match. Almost every batsman fired in right earnest during Sunday’s showdown. Even the bowlers had a fruitful outing, but I would like to see some improvements in the bowling department. I must admit that I was a little surprised by India’s underwhelming display in the field. Some of those catches should not have been dropped, but I guess the support staff will put the boys through their paces, and I hope to see an improved performance against Sri Lanka. Full Cricket Scorecard: India vs Sri Lanka, ICC Champions Trophy 2017, Match 8 at The Oval

Lest we forget, the English weather is often unpredictable. We have already lost two matches to rain, and I sincerely hope the clouds stay away and we get a full game. If it ends up being a 50-overs-a-side game, then I don’t see Sri Lanka troubling India at all.

However, if the match is reduced to a 20-20 or a 30-overs-a-side game due to the vagaries of the weather, then the match could go either way. Needless to say, dealing with the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) method is not easy.

Sri Lanka has the spunk of Niroshan Dickwella and the ever-reliable Lasith Malinga is capable of making any batting line-up look pedestrian on his day. I hope India plays him out safely.

The Men in Blue should also be wary of the complacency factor. On a high after the 124-run win in the first match, Virat Kohli and his side must not let the intensity levels down. India just needs to get the basics right. I expect the top order as well as Kohli and Yuvraj Singh to take off from where they left in Birmingham.

I also hope to see Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ravindra Jadeja make the most of the conditions at The Oval. Given the form that India is in, it is likely to emerge winner even if it plays to 70 per-cent potential. But let’s just hope the players give it their all.