Sri Lanka look to end their agonising wait for elusive win in series against India.
Colombo: India would aim to cap off their super successful Sri Lanka tour with another ruthless victory in the one-off T20 on Wednesday. Any other result than India’s resounding win looks highly unlikely, considering the visitors’ rampaging run in the preceding Test and ODI series, where they whitewashed the hosts 3-0 and 5-0 respectively.
The game provides India an opportunity to fine-tune team combination ahead of the upcoming T20 home series against Australia and New Zealand. In total, India will play nine T20 matches this home season and all contests will be a three-match series.
India are on an experimentation drive ahead of the 2019 50-over World Cup and one name they could have tried here is Rishabh Pant, who was not named in the squad.
It is all the more surprising since the selectors had an opportunity to send him for this stand-alone game when Shikhar Dhawan returned home to tend to his ailing mother this past weekend, leaving Ajinkya Rahane to open the innings in the fifth ODI.
Pant has previously featured in two T20s against England and West Indies, but was kept out of this tour on account of his poor run for India A in South Africa, as stated by chief selector M.S.K. Prasad after the team selection.
In the lone T20 against the West Indies at Jamaica, Virat Kohli had opened the innings with Dhawan with Pant coming in at no. 3. As such, their dual absence will necessitate atleast a couple changes from the Indian skipper.
Rohit Sharma slots back in automatically, for he didn’t travel to the Caribbean earlier whilst K.L. Rahul and Manish Pandey will be expected to bring up the middle order.
Kedar Jadhav scored a much needed half-century in the final ODI, and he could be afforded another chance to prove his credentials as India prepare for a long limited-overs’ schedule at home.
Hardik Pandya was rested for that fifth match on Sunday, and he too is expected to return to the playing XI. Pandya hadn’t featured in India’s last T20I against the West Indies, with Kohli opting for five full-time bowlers back in July. His return to the playing XI could allow for a bowling combination similar to the ODIs, with four full-time options to choose from.
Jasprit Bumrah is a shoo-in of course, while it remains to be seen if Shardul Thakur will get another go after proving expensive in the last match at Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s expense.
Kohli does like to field leg-spinners in the shortest format, and he played both Yuzvendra Chahal and Amit Mishra against England at both Nagpur and Bengaluru. He is expected to repeat this trick with Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav this time around.
Even so, there were no sure hints coming forth as the India team enjoyed an additional off day ahead of the game and did not practice.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka have made a few changes to their original T20 squad after suffering the 5-0 whitewash. Leg spinner Jeffrey Vandersay and seam-bowling all-rounder Dasun Shanaka are prominent additions.
Pacer Suranga Lakmal makes a comeback after injury, as he had been ruled out ahead of the second Test in August. Off-spinner Akila Dananjay has also been added to the squad.