Lucknow: With the number of claimants growing en route to the T20 World Cup, India’s willingness to experiment or see their intensity in the three-match T20 series against Sri Lanka, which starts here on Thursday, will not wane.
After a 3-0 money laundering of the West Indies, the in-form Indians will try to make an encore against the visiting Sri Lankans, and the Rohit Sharma-led squad have a realistic chance of achieving that.
But striving to complete another clean sweep doesn’t mean they should lessen their enthusiasm to give as many players as possible enough playing time ahead of the World Cup, to be held in Australia in October-November.
The absence of the team’s established players such as: Virat Kohlic and Rishbah Pant as well as KL Rahul, in the next three T20 Internationals will definitely translate into more opportunities for the likes of Ishan Kishan, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Sanju Samson.
With Kohli out, Shreyas Iyer will have a chance to settle down, play more overs, score some useful runs and claim one of the mid-range slots, although the former India captain will return to take his third place in the World Cup.
The duo of Gaikwad and Iyer failed in the third T20Is against the West Indies and they would hope to impress against Sri Lanka.
One of the highlights of the past week has been Venkatesh Iyer’s ability to complete matches and if he is able to continue in the same vein against the Islanders, while managing to improve his bowling, the Indian team management have a world-class all-round team. rounder at his disposal in the showpiece Down Under.
With Suryakumar Yadav banned from the series alongside Deepak Chahar due to injuries, Venkatesh will take on extra responsibility when it comes to hitting the back 10.
Sanju Samson has also been included in the roster and it would be interesting to see if management gives him a chance in the playing XI.
Spinner Ravi Bishnoi also impressed in his first T20I series and he will be moving forward with the same momentum.
Spearhead Jasprit Bumrah is back on the team to bolster the bowling attack and will form a formidable bowling unit along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Siraj.
Bhuvneshwar will draw confidence from his good performance against the West Indies, especially in the death overs.
Recently, head coach Rahul Dravid had said that he and Rohit are quite clear about the team for the big tournament in Australia in less than eight months.
“I think we have a good idea between Rohit and myself and the selectors and management,” Dravid had said after the 3-0 clean sweep over the West Indies.
“I don’t think there is a fixed formula for it. But we are pretty clear about the balance and the combination (for the T20 World Cup). We structure just a little bit of the team around it and also balance the individual workloads.
“We have a pretty good idea of the kind of skills we’re looking for in Australia, with the kind of guys out there running. Not everything is set in stone, but we want to give everyone a fair chance to stake their claim in those spots,” Dravid had said.
As for Sri Lanka, the squad suffered a 1-4 loss to Australia and were let down time and again by hitting.
Skipper Dasun Shanaka would hope that their percussion would get its act together against India.
Bowling will need to recover soon as star leg spinner Wanindu Hasaranga has been banned from the series after failing to recover from his COVID-19 infection.
India: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shreyas Iyer, Sanju Samson, Ishan Kishan (wicketkeeper), Venkatesh Iyer, Deepak Hooda, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravi Bishnoi, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohd. Siraj, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Jasprit Bumrah (Vice Captain), Avesh Khan.
Sri Lanka: Dasun Shanaka (Captain), Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis, Charith Asalanka (Vice Captain), Dinesh Chandimal, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kamil Mishara, Janith Liyanage, Chamika Karunaratne, Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiru Kumara, Binura Fernando, Shiran Fernando, Maheesh Theekshana, Jeffrey Vandersay, Praveen Jayawickrama, Ashian Daniel.
The match kicks off at 7pm IST.
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