After Sri Lanka were whitewashed 5-0, captain Upul Tharanga bemoaned the lack of consistency his team had shown throughout the Test and ODI series, which saw many undesirable records being created for the home side. He expressed his desire to get Sri Lanka out of this mess, and the ideal way to start off would pull off a massive upset against India.
Given the visitors’ form, that will be a difficult task to accomplish. India have been toying with the Lankans, not letting them win a single match out of 3 Tests and 5 ODIs. Boasting some of the best names in T20 cricket, India will not go down so easily.
This entire series, fans of Sri Lanka have been wondering the same question, for which the answer so far has consistently been a resounding no. Can the Sri Lankans pull at least one back before the Indians return home?
Upul Tharanga (c), Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Dilshan Munaweera, Dasun Shanaka, Milinda Siriwardana, Wanidu Hasaranga, Akila Dananjaya, Jeffrey Vandersay, Isuru Udana, Seekkuge Prasanna, Thisara Perera, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal and Vikum Sanjaya.
Virat Kohli(c), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Lokesh Rahul, Manish Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni(wk), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shardul Thakur, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah
Where the Teams Stand
Of the three formats, the T20 easily holds the highest chances for them to pull off a win due to the format. Upul Tharanga’s return to form in the last ODI could not have come at a better time as he scored 48 in 34 balls. The captain leading from the front is always an encouraging sign for the team. Siriwardana has been one of the lone bright spots for Sri Lanka in the ODIs, and he will be another player to watch out for.
Besides these two, the two X-factors for Sri Lanka will be Isuru Udana and Dasun Shanaka, if selected. The former can be highly unpredictable with the ball. He has a deceptive slower ball which at one time made him a huge success as a bowler. The latter has a strike rate of 152.6 in all T20s as per ESPN Cricinfo, with a highest of 131 from 33 innings. Dickwella is due for a big innings, and if any two batsmen can cobble together a steady partnership, Sri Lanka might well find themselves in a favourable position.
Sri Lanka have only three pacers in the squad, Malinga, Udana, and Sanjaya. The former two are most likely to play. Dananjaya and Hasaranga were below average in the ODIs, and their place in the starting lineup is suspect. Hence, Lakmal, Vandersay, and Perera should form the bowling attack with Siriwardana as an extra option. With Tharanga, Dickwella, Munaweera, and Mathews, it gives Sri Lanka 7 batsmen and 6 bowling options if they utilize their squad depth in this way.
The Indians retain the same squad they played in the ODIs. Their policy of player rotation has worked so far, with everyone performing apart from KL Rahul. Given he is the only one to have not found his rhythm yet, Kohli might just drop Rohit Sharma to give him another chance as he did with Kedar Jadhav. Dhawan, though named in the squad, flew back home before the fifth ODI to look after his ill mother and will not feature in the T20. This implies that Rahane will retain his place in the team at the top. Kohli, Pandey, Jadhav, and Dhoni will most likely form the middle order.
Chahal could make way for Axar Patel to give the Indians some extra batting cover lower down after they played only 6 in the last match. Pandya is the other obvious option in case Kohli feels the need for an extra batsman who can also bowl. The spin-pace difference will be key to the choice between the two. Kohli could include both at the expense of Shardul Thakur though the skipper will most probably want the younger one to play.
No matter what combination they choose, India are bound to be successful bar one of their infamous collapses in the middle. One can only hope that this encounter isn’t as one-sided as so many have been recently.
India to complete their three format rout.
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