India have been consistent and have dominated the five-match series right from the start, barring the second ODI, which they lost by nine wickets, after coming into the tournament following a prolonged break.
The visitors took an unassailable 3-1 lead after winning the fourth one-dayer by six wickets in their last outing and Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men will now aim to end the series on a high.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, never bargained to be 1-3 down with just one to play in the one-day series and Mahela Jayawardene’s men will hope to salvage some pride by making it 2-3 rather than facing the 1-4 ignominy.
Jayawardene was honest in his assessment that the hosts were simply not good enough against the world champions and blamed their inconsistency for the sorry state.
The hosts came to Colombo with series level at 1-1. Given the consistent home favour in the history of games at the Premadasa, the expectations were high from the home team to press ahead the home advantage.
But it was not to be. Rather, it was Dhoni’s men who created history at Premadasa by comfortably winning the third and fourth ODI by five wickets and six wickets.
For Sri Lanka, it was not just inconsistency but more of an under-performance which has never been seen in a home series of such high stake.
Apart from Kumar Sangakkara’s brilliant 133 in the first game at Hambantota, Sri Lankans have been below par. Take the case of Tillakaratne Dilshan.
The opener has failed to fire at the top with only one 50 in the four outings. His partner Tharanga was slightly better getting two 50s.
Jayawardene himself has been patchy. His decision to drop down the order to allow the young Dinesh Chandimal to take charge has not proved to be a wise option and the Sri Lankan captain would do well to return to his familiar position to see if he could inspire the team tomorrow.
The middle-order of Angelo Mathews and Chandimal have produced only flashes of brilliance while Thisara Perera’s all-round efforts were not at par with his performance against Pakistan.
Sri Lanka also have been suffering from a series of injury worries. Losing in-form Sangakkara after the third ODI following his fracture in the little finger of his right hand has affected their cause.
The fast bowling unit also looks bare with as many as six pacers being out through injuries. Lasith Malinga has been leading the attack but he has accounted for only five wickets in four games, while giving away runs at a premium.
Jayawardene now wants a decent performance from his team in the last ODI at Kandy and then his focus will be on the availability of resources ahead of a busy schedule.
“I need to speak to the management and see how best we can do that. I know a couple of guys are really struggling with fatigue. We will see what options are and try and motivate them to go out and take up the challenge,” he said.
“Kandy is going to be a different challenge altogether.
We need to try and put up a decent performance together.”
Sri Lanka (probable): Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Dinesh Chandimal (wk), Mahela Jayawardene(c), Angelo Mathews, Lahiru Thirimanne, Thisara Perera, Jeevan Mendis, Rangana Herath, Nuwan Pradeep, Lasith Malinga
India (probable): Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (c&wk), Manoj Tiwary, Irfan Pathan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, Ashok Dinda
Time: 14:30 local (14:30 IST)