Colombo: 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 face an under-fire Sri Lanka in the six-match limited overs contest, beginning with the first ODI here on Sunday.
Winning any international series 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 Lankan camp. The series comprises three ODIs and as many T20s.
Dasun Shanaka is their 10th captain in four years and barring a classy batsman like Dhananjaya de Silva and a steady pacer in Dishmantha Chameera, this team lacks quality to challenge the might of Indian team led by Shikhar Dhawan.
The suspension of Kusal Mendis and Niroshan Dickwella due to bio-bubble breach in UK along with injury to former skipper Kusal Perera puts Sri Lanka in a tight spot. If they can manage to win one game, that will be an achievement in itself after a disastrous tour of England.
Expect Prithvi Shaw, Vijay Hazare Trophy's top scorer to open alongside Dhawan, while seniors Hardik Pandya and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are expected to find automatic slots in the playing XI.
However there are multiple contender for other slots.
Will it be Devdutt Padikkal or Ruturaj Gaikwad for No 3 slot? Will Suryakumar Yadav's 360 degree hitting ability be used or Manish Pandey get a final chance to show some consistency?
Will Krishnappa Gowtham's off-spin and big hits be preferred over Krunal Pandya's left-arm darts along with cheeky batting skills? How is Rahul Chahar placed against Yuzvendra Chahal, who hasn't been in best of forms of late?
And who will don the big gloves? Is it Rahul Dravid's protege Sanju Samson or the mercurial Mumbai Indians man Ishan Kishan, who can really pack a punch?
These are questions that needs to be answered by the team management in Colombo, before picking the team.
India's bench strength has been a matter of envy for all top cricketing nations and has allowed two national teams to compete in different parts of the globe in COVID times.
A team that has Dhawan and Shaw at the top along with likes of Pandey, Suryakumar, Pandya brothers, Hardik and Krunal, seasoned Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Deepak Chahar along with spin twins Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav can be anything but pushovers.
Some of these players are T20 regulars and while the 50 over format is of lesser importance going into the global event in next three months, both Dravid and Dhawan know the importance of game time.
India: Shikhar Dhawan (captain), Prithvi Shaw, Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Suryakumar Yadav, Manish Pandey, Nitish Rana, Ishan Kishan (wk), Sanju Samson (wk), Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Krishnappa Gowtham, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Varun Chakaravarthy, Rahul Chahar, Deepak Chahar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Chetan Sakariya, Navdeep Saini.
Sri Lanka: Dasun Shanaka (Captain), Dhananjaya De Silva (Vice Captain), Avishka Fernando, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Pathum Nissanka, Charith Asalanka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Ashen Bandara, Minod Bhanuka, Lahiru Udara, Ramesh Mendis, Chamika Karunaratne, Dushmantha Chameera, Lakshan Sandakan, Akila Dhananjaya, Shiran Fernando, Dhananjaya Lakshan, Ishan Jayaratne, Praveen Jayawickrema, Asitha Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara, Isuru Udana.
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‘Ranatunga's 2nd-string jibe doesn't affect’
Colombo: Former Sri Lanka skipper Arjuna Ranatunga's comments calling the Indian team in Sri Lanka second string does not bother skipper Shikhar Dhawan, who said that they are going for victory against a young Sri Lankan team.
"I feel this Sri Lankan team is a young team and they have got good players. If they feel it is a second (string) team, that is their feeling. We will go ahead and play Sri Lanka. It is an international match. We have to seize the opportunity," said Dhawan during an interaction with the media.
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