Galle - New India coach Ravi Shastri will on Wednesday look
to prove his team remains the world's best Test side when they take on Sri
Lanka in the first of three matches.
Shastri, who took over the demanding role after Anil
Kumble's acrimonious exit last month, has backed India to continue the
"fearless brand of cricket" that helped them regain the number one
position last year from Pakistan.
While India lost the Champions Trophy final to their
arch-rivals, the Virat Kohli-led side is on a roll after winning 10 of the last
13 Tests, overcoming top sides like New Zealand, England and Australia.
"They know their job. They are professional cricketers.
Once they step on the field they take over. That is how it should be,"
said Shastri, who became head coach after Kumble quit over his
"untenable" relationship with Kohli.
"My role will be to get the guys (to) express
themselves and play (a) fearless brand of cricket," the former all-rounder
While India start as overwhelming favourites after the
seventh-ranked Sri Lanka scraped past Zimbabwe in a one-off Test last week,
Shastri has warned against complacency.
"Sri Lanka can't be taken lightly at home. Their track
record playing at home is as good as any another team. We would look to improve
in the series," said the 55-year-old.
The visitors have played a two-day warm-up game in Colombo
with returning batsman Shikhar Dhawan among the scorers.
India could start with three spinners and use left-arm wrist
spinner Kuldeep Yadav with the experienced Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra
Ashwin said Shastri's presence has always had a
"postive influence" on the team, adding that the players were looking
to work together with the coach for some amazing results.
"Ravi bhai has been a fabulous person to have in the
dressing room. Even when he was here last time, we lost that Test in Galle and
(he) really picked us up from that low point in our careers," Ashwin told
reporters on Monday.
Sri Lanka, whose new Test skipper Dinesh Chandimal has been
ruled out through flu, will need all the experience of stand-in-captain Rangana
The left-arm spinner, who took 11 wickets against Zimbabwe
and his 31st five-wicket haul in 81 Tests, is key for Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka's pace lineup has been bolstered by the return of
veteran Nuwan Pradeep, who is likely to start at Galle International Stadium.
Dhananjaya de Silva adds muscle to their strong batting
arsenal, comprising former captain Angelo Mathews, Upul Tharanga and Niroshan
Sri Lanka's interim coach Nic Pothas said the team should
take inspiration from Kohli's men who overcame a 1-0 deficit to beat the
islanders in a three-Test series in 2015.
The triumph resurrected India's fortunes as they registered
their first series win in Sri Lanka for 23 years and went on to become the
number one Test side again a year later.
"I think we probably are in the same situation that
Virat was talking about the Indian team being in a few years ago. We are in
that rebuilding phase," said Pothas.
The South African, who took charge after Graham Ford's exit
last month, added he was focused on changing the team's culture and unleashing
Rangana Herath (captain), Upul Tharanga, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Asela Gunaratne, Niroshan Dickwella, Dhananjaya de Silva, Danushka Gunathilaka, Dilruwan Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara, Vishwa Fernando, Malinda Pushpakumara, Nuwan Pradeep.
Virat Kohli (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice captain), Rohit Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Abhinav Mukund.