Upbeat after a demolition act in the second Test in Nagpur, Virat Kohli-led India will be eager to carry forward the momentum when they take on a below-par Sri Lanka in the third and final Test match at the Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi on Saturday. The Kotla track may not be as flat as the one at Jamtha, where India scored a mammoth 610/6 declared but it also won't be a green top like the one they got at the Eden Gardens. The last time New Delhi hosted a Test match was in 2015. At that time, it was rated as the best pitch in display during the series as the match against South Africa went deep into the fifth day.
After the flop show in the first innings of the first Test, Indian openers Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul enjoyed a fruitful second innings with scores of 94 and 79, respectively.
Murali Vijay, who was surprisingly kept out of playing XI for the opening Test, came into the side in the second game in Dhawan's absence and scored a brilliant 128.
Now with Dhawan back in the squad, it is indeed a happy problem for skipper Kohli, who has to choose two quality openers among three.
India are 1-0 up in the series which could have easily been 2-0 had Kohli and his men got an extra 45 minutes on the final day of the rain-curtailed first Test that ended in a draw. No wonder India would be ideally hoping to put up another dominant show, aiming for a finish inside four days.
The year 2018, starting with three Tests against South Africa followed by the two marquee away series -- five matches against England and four against Australia at the back-end of the year -- will define Kohli's character as a leader and also his ability of his team.
Therefore, it will be a good chance for the likes of Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravichandran Ashwin to rack up some more enviable numbers which will do a world of good to their confidence.
Facing a Sri Lankan side, which has been nothing short of an embarrassment, is not the greatest of challenges but for world's No 1 Test side, it will be an opportunity to get some much required match practice, which they unfortunately won't get in South Africa save a two-day game.
Add to it, the absence of their injured veteran left-arm spinner Rangana Herath has left the island nation look like a rudderless ship.
Herath, with figures of 1/81 in 39 overs, was the only bowler who the Indians treated with respect during their innings and 239-run win in the second Test at Nagpur.
Even worse, Angelo Mathews, who was supposed to take Sri Lanka cricket to the next level, has been woefully out of form.
India: Virat Kohli (capt), Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha, Rohit Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Vijay Shankar, Kuldeep Yadav.
Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (capt), Dimuth Karunaratne, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Lahiru Thirimanne, Niroshan Dickwella, Angelo Mathews, Dilruwan Perera, Jefferey Vandersay, Roshan Silva, Dashun Shanaka, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Gamage, Lakshan Sandakan, Dhananjaya de Silva.
(With PTI inputs)