In their final international T20I assignment before the T20 World Cup, India take on Sri Lanka in a three-match series starting on Sunday, July 25 at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.
The ODI series ended in favor of the visitors by a 2-1 margin, but the scoreline doesn’t tell the whole story. After India cruised to a seven-wicket win in the opening game, Sri Lanka found their rhythm and nearly leveled the series in the second ODI.
Although Deepak Chahar played the innings of his life to help India seal the series, the hosts came roaring back in the final ODI against an Indian team that decided to rotate heavily. Sri Lanka showed they won’t be pushovers despite being without several first-choice stars.
Speaking of first-choice stars, Sri Lanka should welcome the return of left-arm pacer Binura Fernando and leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga. While the former was ruled out of the ODI series, the latter was exceptional in the two games he played before suffering a muscle tear.
India should have a full squad to choose from. Certain reports suggest that Prithvi Shaw, Suryakumar Yadav and Devdutt Padikkal could be called up to the red-ball side in England, which has been hit by an injury bug. However, no official communication from the BCCI has been received.
India will cease their experimentation in the T20I series, which will have a massive impact on the selection of the T20 World Cup squad. Senior players and youngsters both have a lot to play for.
IND vs SL 1st T20I Prediction: Advantage India in Colombo
The T20 format might be perfect for India’s batsmen to play their natural game. Prithvi Shaw, Ishan Kishan, Sanju Samson and Suryakumar Yadav are all free-stroking batsmen who didn’t attempt to curb their instincts in the ODI series – something that even brought about their downfall frequently.
These four batsmen are in contention for the few spots available in India’s T20 World Cup squad and need a good series. Seniors like Shikhar Dhawan and Hardik Pandya may have already booked their seats on the plane to the UAE, but slots in the playing XI aren’t as easily available.
The Men in Blue are expected to hand mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy an international debut, with either Yuzvendra Chahal or Rahul Chahar to partner him. Deepak Chahar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar will look to solve their death-bowling woes as they bid to become India’s third pacer for the T20 World Cup.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka are locked in rebuilding mode. Avishka Fernando was the star of the team in the ODI series as he showed great composure and class over the three games. Others like Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Charith Asalanka excelled, but can they translate their form into T20I success?
Spin holds the key for Sri Lanka. Akila Dananjaya and Praveen Jayawickrama bagged three-wicket hauls in the final ODI, but one of them might be sacrificed if Hasaranga is fit to play. Dushmantha Chameera will have to support the slower bowlers, who must take wickets in the middle overs if the hosts are to mount a challenge.
India should be able to put it across Sri Lanka in the opening T20I. Their batsmen are tailor-made for the format, in which Sri Lanka have won only one of their last 14 matches.
Prediction: India to win the 1st T20I against Sri Lanka
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