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05 Mar 2018

Sri Lanka vs India: First T20 squads, preview, and prediction

Picture Credit: Public Domain Photography

Overview 

The Nidahas Cup is all set to begin with a match between India and Sri Lanka. The former is returning from a very successful tour of South Africa, while Sri Lanka trounced Bangladesh away from home too. Both teams have undergone a major overhaul, with India resting several regulars 

India have a very young squad of players for the trophy, an interesting move that should lead to some great viewing. This is a good chance for Sri Lanka to defeat India, even if it is just for the record. Can they capitalize on the opportunity, or will India dominate anyway?

Squads 

India 

Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Suresh Raina, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Deepak Hooda, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Vijay Shankar, Shardul Thakur, Jaydev Unadkat, Mohammed Siraj, Rishabh Pant

Sri Lanka 

Dinesh Chandimal (c), Upul Tharanga, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Dasun Shanaka, Kusal Perera, Jeevan Mendis, Suranga Lakmal, Isuru Udana, Akila Dananjaya, Amila Aponso, Nuwan Pradeep, Dushmantha Chameera, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera

Where the teams stand 

India 

Rohit Sharma will lead India in the absence of Kohli. He will retain his place at the top alongside Shikhar Dhawan. Raina has also retained his number three spot after impressive showings in South Africa. KL Rahul and Dinesh Karthik will keep the fourth and fifth slot for themselves, followed by Pant and Pandey in the absence of Hardik Pandya. Pant has had a good domestic season this year, while Pandey impressed during the tour and Karthik has been reliable in the past. This lineup is packing some serious punch, and if they get going, Kohli and Dhoni’s absence will not be felt at all. 

It will be interesting to see if India go with one spinner or two considering that they have Suresh Raina as a part-time bowler. Chahal retains his place in the squad, with Axar Patel and Washington Sundar included as well. Sundar has been a handy batsman in the domestic circuit whereas Axar Patel can swing the bat as well. Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar both have been rested. India have only included three pacers, possibly hinting at a two spinner-two pacer strategy. Siraj, Unadkat, and Shardul Thakur have all been included. Thakur was very effective in South Africa in contrast to some disappointing spells from Jaydev. Sundar and Chahal would make for a duo with the capability of being as successful as Chahal-Kuldeep in ODIs. However, playing two spinners in Sri Lanka against them is a risky strategy given their proficiency at spin. It would be brave decision to go with two slow bowlers, but it remains to be seen whether Sharma goes through with it. 

Sri Lanka 

Sri Lanka have dropped five players for the Nidahas Trophy, with Angelo Mathews set to miss the tournament as well. Niroshan Dickwella, Lahiru Kumara, and Jeffrey Vandersay were among the ones excluded from the squad. Gunathilaka and Kusal Mendis were very successful at the top during their tour of Bangladesh, plundering runs in both the T20s. Shanaka has hit his stride at number 4, with some big hitting in both matches as well. Chandimal has demoted himself to the lower middle order given his more defensive play style, pushing Tharanga to number three. With Thisara Perera also lower in the order, Sri Lanka have an explosive batting order that could dominate a young Indian bowling attack. 

Nuwan Pradeep and Dushmantha Chameera return for Sri Lanka, with Dananjaya de Silva returning as well. Suranga Lakmal is also part of the squad as a premier pacer along with the regularly benched Isuru Udana. Akila Dananjaya and Jeevan Mendis are also other options for the attack. Pradeep, Chameera, and Lakmal are almost certain to make the cut, with Dananjaya being the spinner considering the constant seven batsman strategy. All in all, while Sri Lanka have a much more experienced side, India have enough talent in their ranks to topple the home side. 

Prediction 

Sri Lanka win. It is uncertain whether India can cohesively perform yet, and they might need a match to get going. Sri Lanka have a much more settled lineup.