India Vs Sri Lanka, 4th ODI: Series Decided, All Eyes On MS Dhoni's 300th Match
Dhoni is one short of a record 100 stumpings in ODIs, as well as 73 not outs.
When the One-day International series with Sri Lanka was in its initial stages, the focus on Mahendra Singh Dhoni was more about his mistakes, with conjectures on whether he was towards the end of his tenure. But as the series progressed, two undefeated match-winning innings, combined with some fluent work behind the stumps have effectively silenced all those voices. Now, with the 4th ODI of the series to be played on Thursday, the focus is on two landmarks that the veteran is closing in on - 100 stumpings in ODIs and 73 not out innings in the same format, which will both be world records.
Considered one of the greatest finishers in 50-over cricket, Dhoni will join India's elite 'Club 300', which has Sachin Tendulkar (463), Rahul Dravid (344), Mohammed Azharuddin (334), Sourav Ganguly (311) and Yuvraj Singh (304).
Unbeaten knocks of 45 and 67 under pressure are proof that he is still not finished and his eyes are firmly set on the 50-over World Cup of 2019.
The series already sealed with an unassailable 3-0 lead, Virat Kohli's next aim would be to give a chance to players who have only warmed the benches so far such as Kuldeep Yadav, Manish Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane and Shardul Thakur.
Kohli himself had a couple of low-scoring games and he would look to get back to scoring some more runs along with KL Rahul, who has not exactly looked comfortable in an unfamiliar No. 4 position.
The India captain has already hinted that he wants to rotate players and chinaman Kuldeep may get a look-in. In that case, either Yuzvendra Chahal or Axar Patel will make way.
While India have some 'happy problems' to deal with, Sri Lanka are in deep trouble, trying to field a potent first XI.
To begin with, the selection committee headed by Sanath Jayasuriya has resigned. Sri Lanka Cricket has accepted their resignations.
However, they will continue to hold office until the end of this series but there will be intense spotlight on their selection decisions as has been the case for a while now.
Dinesh Chandimal has been ruled out of the series with a hairline fracture on his right thumb after enduring a hit in the previous ODI.
To add to their headache, stand-in skipper Chamara Kapugedara has been ruled out of the remainder of the series as well, owing to an aggravated back injury (he received medical attention whilst batting during the third ODI).
Lasith Malinga will lead the side in the fourth ODI, with suspended captain Upul Tharanga expected to handle the reins in the final ODI on September 3 as well as the solitary T20I on September 6.
India: Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shardul Thakur.
Sri Lanka: Lasith Malinga (capt), Dhananjaya de Silva, Dilshan Munaweera, Lahiru Thirimanna, Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Kusal Mendis, Milinda Siriwardana, Malinda Pushpakumara, Akila Dananjaya, Lakshan Sandakan, Thisara Perera, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dushmantha Chameera, Vishwa Fernando, Upul Tharanga (for fifth ODI).
(With PTI inputs)