Sehwag to play, Murali on verge of record

Muttiah Muralitharan is on the verge of becoming the highest wicket-taker in ODIs

India's 3-2 victory in August last year was their first-ever bilateral series win in Sri Lanka and their chances of making it two in a row will increase significantly if the result of Saturday's day-night contest goes their way. India gain a massive boost with the return of Virender Sehwag - who missed the first ODI due to a hip injury - and a win for them will leave the hosts needing three consecutive victories to prevent defeat; a Sri Lankan success will bring the series back on an even keel.

To beat a clinical Indian outfit, however, Sri Lanka will have to shape up in disciplines that let them down in the first one-dayer in Dambulla. Apart from their batsmen failing to build substantially on Sanath Jayasuriya's century, Sri Lanka also to gave India leeway with loose running between the wickets and sloppy catching, aspects that are usually second nature to them. Tillakaratne Dilshan dropped Suresh Raina early in India's chase, and his run-out earlier in the match was the first of two in the innings, and the seventh of eight in their last six ODIs.

India, on the other hand, did little wrong during their six-wicket victory. There were traces of rustiness in the field, and a couple of batsmen fell to forgettable dismissals, but on the whole, the execution of the chase was calm and efficient even though Sehwag, a critical cog in the batting line-up, was missing. Their handling of Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis - the duo that caused nightmares during the last Test series - was particularly effective: between them, Murali and Mendis took only 1 for 99 in 20 overs.

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Muttiah Muralitharan has 501 wickets and is two away from overtaking Wasim Akram to become the highest wicket-taker in ODIs. He took only 1 for 52 in the first ODI but his being so close to the record could inspire him and the rest of the Sri Lankans to raise their game.