Sri Lanka vs India 1st T20I Preview: All eyes on Chakravarthy, Shaw in India's last T20I series ahead of WC
Is the India tour of Sri Lanka about winning or experimentation?
Going by how the Indian team management picked their playing XI for the 3rd ODI, it appears to be the latter. India handed debut caps to Sanju Samson, Nitish Rana, Chetan Sakariya, K Gowtham and Rahul Chahar and gave some game time to Navdeep Saini in the final ODI. You can argue that the team made these changes after they had won the the ODI series and the focus will be back to winning in the T20Is.
Head to head
India and Sri Lanka have met on a total of 19 occasions in T20 Internationals out of which India have won 13 and Sri Lanka have won 5 while one match ended without result. The last time Sri Lanka squared off against India in a T20 International, it was in March 2018 when Team India won by 5 wickets in the Nidahas tri-series.
On Sri Lanka's recent tour of India in January 2020, the team suffered a 2-0 loss, losing the last encounter by a massive margin of 78 runs.
Shaw and Dhawan to continue opening
It doesn't look likely for reserve openers Devdutt Padikkal and Ruturaj Gaikwad to get opportunities, at least in the first two matches of the T20I series, with Prithvi Shaw and skipper Shikhar Dhawan expected to continue.
After Sanju Samson got an opportunity in the 3rd ODI, Ishan Kishan is expected to return to the playing XI in the T20I series. Kishan showed that he is a better gloveman than Samson.
Manish Pandey failed to impress in the ODI series and there is a case for Padikkal or Gaikwad to bat at number 3 and Ishan Kishan to be pushed down number 4, with Suryakumar Yadav batting at number 5. However, India needs some stability in their batting unit despite it being the shortest format of international cricket which might allow Manish Pandey to retain his spot.
Hardik Pandya and Krunal Pandya will take their places at number 6 and 7 and will provide the team with balance. Deepak Chahar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, after being rested for the final ODI, are likely to return.
In terms of the spin department, Rahul Chahar impressed in the final ODI and will play. Varun Chakravarthy was picked by the Indian management for the tour of Australia and later for the series against England but failed to pass the Yo-Yo test on both occasions. After having recovered from a bout of COVID-19 and putting in several hundred hours on his fitness, Chakravarthy is finally set to make his India debut.
The mystery spinner impressed in IPL 2020 and took 17 wickets from 13 matches at an average of 21.94 and an economy rate of 6.84. He had 7 wickets at an economy rate of 7.82 before IPL 2021 was suspended.
Some good performances against Sri Lanka will go a long way in cementing his place in the Indian T20 World Cup squad. As it is, these are the last T20Is that India will play ahead of the upcoming World Cup set to be played in the UAE.
Hasaranga set to be back
Sri Lanka won an ODI against India in Sri Lanka after almost a decade and they don't need to do a lot different. Wanindu Hasaranga, if recovered, is likely to replace Ramesh Mendis in the playing XI.
The home side has Ishan Jayaratne, Lakshan Sandakan, Kasun Rajitha, Pathum Nissanka, Isuru Udana, Asitha Fernando, Lahiru Kumara, Ashen Bandara, Dhananjaya Lakshan, Lahiru Udara and Shiran Fernando in the bench.
Many other changes are not expected with the likes of Avishka Fernando, Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Charith Asalanka, finally getting some consistency.
Predicted playing XIs:
Sri Lanka - Avishka Fernando, Minod Bhanuka (wk), Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Dhananjaya de Silva, Charith Asalanka, Dasun Shanaka (c), Wanindu Hasaranga/Ramesh Mendis, Chamika Karunaratne, Akila Dananjaya, Dushmantha Chameera, Praveen Jayawickrama
India - Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan (c), Ishan Kishan (wk), Manish Pandey, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Deepak Chahar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rahul Chahar, Varun Chakravarthy
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