Sports Whitewash

In this photograph taken Aug. 6, 2017, Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli (second left) is congratulated by Sri Lankan cricketer Rangana Herath (left) after victory in the second Test match between Sri Lanka and India at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground in Colombo. Sri Lanka are flirting with an embarrassing series whitewash in the third Test against India Aug. 13 as they struggle with problems on and off the pitch which have thrown the team into turbulence. (Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP/Getty Images)

KANDY — After two resounding victories, India can become only the second cricket side to inflict a whitewash on Sri Lanka at home in a three-test series.

Sri Lanka has hardly been able to fire a shot in the series, losing each of the first two tests inside four days. Its hopes of preventing India from matching the 3-0 sweep by Ricky Ponting’s Australia 13 years ago were diminished further by the decision to rest premier spinner Rangana Herath for the third test starting on Saturday in Pallekele.

Herath has a back strain after bowling almost 200 overs in the last three tests, including the one-off against Zimbabwe, and the selectors decided to rest him with this series decided and the Pakistan series coming up.

Without its two best bowlers after Nuwan Pradeep hurt his hamstring in the second test, Sri Lanka’s bowling attack is thinner against a side which has already scored 600 in an innings twice in this series.

“We have lost too many good players to injuries,” Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal said. “There was Asela Gunaratne (broken left thumb) in the first test and then Nuwan and Herath in the second game. It’s tough for us to pick the right combination when these injuries happen.

“We don’t want to give excuses. We are trying to win this and get the confidence moving forward.”

India counterpart Virat Kohli said the chance to become the first India side to sweep Sri Lanka 3-0 in Sri Lanka will take care of any complacency.

“We need to stay in the present and treat every session with respect to win a test match,” Kohli said.

The Indians’ momentum looks too good to stop, having won eight successive series, one short of the world record. They won by 304 runs in Galle, and achieved their first innings victory in Sri Lanka in the second test in Colombo.

Cheteshwar Pujara could become the first India batsman to score three test centuries in an away series of at least three tests, after making 153 in Galle and 133 in Colombo.

India has been forced into one change due to the suspension of allrounder Ravindra Jadeja, for hurling the ball dangerously towards Malinda Pushpakumara in the second test. Left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav is expected to replace Jadeja.

Sri Lanka is likely to leave out middle-order batsman Dhananjaya de Silva and strengthen the bowling. Lahiru Kumara could share the new ball with Vishwa Fernando. The remaining spot is a toss between uncapped seamer Lahiru Gamage and left-arm spinner Lakshan Sandakan.

Rain on Friday prevented both teams from training.

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