A bunch of fresh faces will be desperate for a fair T20 World Cup audition when India’s different-looking yet formidable white-ball squad faces an under-fire Sri Lanka in the six-match limited overs contest, beginning with the first ODI here on Sunday.
Winning any international assignment will be paramount, but one can expect a few combinations being tried out during a series which got delayed by five days due to COVID-19 scare in the Sri Lanka camp. The series comprises three ODIs and as many T20Is.
Dasun Shanaka is Sri Lanka’s 10th captain in four years. Barring a classy batsman like Dhananjaya de Silva and a steady pacer in Dushmantha Chameera, this team lacks quality to challenge the might of India, which is led by opener Shikhar Dhawan.
The suspension of Kusal Mendis and Niroshan Dickwella due to bio-bubble breach in the UK along with the injury to former skipper Kusal Perera has put Sri Lanka in a tight spot. For India, Prithvi Shaw, who was the Vijay Hazare Trophy’s top-scorer, is likely to open alongside Dhawan while seniors Hardik Pandya and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are automatic choices in the playing eleven.
However, there are multiple contenders for the other slots. Will it be Devdutt Padikkal or Ruturaj Gaikwad for the No.3 spot? Will Suryakumar Yadav’s 360-degree hitting ability be used or will Manish Pandey get a chance to show some consistency? Will Krishnappa Gowtham’s off-spin and big hits be preferred to Krunal Pandya’s left-arm darts along with cheeky batting skills?
How is Rahul Chahar placed against Yuzvendra Chahal, who hasn’t been in the best of form of late? And who will don the big gloves?
Is it Rahul Dravid’s protege Sanju Samson or the mercurial Ishan Kishan, who can really pack a punch? These are questions that need to be answered by the team management during the next 11 days.
India’s bench strength has been a matter of envy for all top cricketing nations and it has allowed two national teams to compete in different parts of the globe in difficult COVID times.
While Virat Kohli’s men are keen to set their dismal Test record in England straight, the team led by Dhawan and coached by Dravid will never accept that this is a ‘second string’ outfit taking on Sri Lanka, which is going through its lowest ebb. While there are six uncapped players in the India squad, Dravid had recently made it clear that it would be difficult to provide game time to all available.