Form and combination of Sehwag & Gambhir crucial for India: Ganguly

India will always be a force in the sub-continent and it will be interesting to find out how the team shapes up before the T20 World Cup and against England and Australia at home, writes Sourav Ganguly in Hindustan Times.

“India would want to start the season with a good series victory under their belt. The only worry could be that they are a bit rusty coming off a layoff. With Sachin Tendulkar opting out of the series, the team management will have no problem in deciding on the opening pair. Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir were in good form in the IPL and after the rest, the two would have prepared hard for the season. Their form and combination will be crucial for India. They had a tough time overseas and will be looking to hit form soon, although their main test will be when they travel abroad,” writes Ganguly

“I would like to see MS Dhoni working out an aggressive bowling combination with senior man Zaheer Khan at the helm of affairs, adding that Umesh Yadav and Ashok Dinda should accompany him and Dhoni should use this series to see how Dinda stands up to international cricket, as his key to success would be to get a fit bowling unit for the entire season,” adds Ganguly.

Hambantota is Sri Lanka’s newest international venue and is located in the deep south, writes Mahela Jayawardene in The Times Of India, adding that it will be India’s first visit, but they won’t be too handicapped by their lack of familiarity with conditions as we have still only played three ODI games here.

“Our team has developed quite a bit in the past few months and we now have some really quality all-rounders at our disposal. Indian fans will be familiar with Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera, but Jeevan Mendis is also now giving us useful options as our spin bowling all-rounder. It will also be great to welcome back Lasith (Malinga) after the Pakistan Test series. He’s rested well, cleared up a few niggles and appears to be really fresh and raring to go. With our all-rounders, we bat very deep and that means we can afford to be flexible with the order. Upul (Tharanga) might resume as Dilshan’s opening partner or I can move up to the top, like during the CB Series,” adds Mahela.

Meanwhile according to a report in The Indian Express, India captain MS Dhoni said adapting quickly to the conditions would be key to his team's success in the first cricket one-dayer against Sri Lanka. A rejuvenated India start their new season with the first ODI of the five-match series at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium, a ground where the visitors will make their debut on Saturday.

"It's a new venue. Conditions change in the afternoon, it's quite windy out here. The strong winds can be a factor. Not only the bowlers, but the batsmen and the fielders also need to get used to the conditions," Dhoni said at the pre-match press conference.