The home side have the advantage of game-time, but are coming into the series on the back of off-field turmoil
And now, some cricket.
On the flipside is a team that will give them something else to think about. India’s second-string side is more experienced, more settled, and has names that are desperate to impress inside a system that has produced India’s deepest roster ever. There are many sub-plots waiting to be played out within this team – openers knocking on the first team’s door, wicketkeepers who are battling for backup spots, spinners looking to prove they aren’t done, and others eager to show they are capable beyond the IPL.
The one thing in Sri Lanka’s favour is recent game time, but India start as favourites.
Sri Lanka (completed matches, most recent first) LLWLL
In the spotlight
With Kusal Perera out injured, the immediate hole Sri Lanka have to fill is in their opening slot. Minod Bhanuka is expected to fill in as wicketkeeper, and Bhanuka Rajapaksa is likely to slot in alongside Dhananjaya de Silva and Dasun Shanaka in the middle order. Fast bowler Kasun Rajitha is back in the squad after injury, and should make it to an XI that will likely have spinners of all varieties.
Sri Lanka: (possible) 1 Avishka Fernando, 2 Pathum Nissanka, 3 Minod Bhanuka (wk), 4 Dhananjaya de Silva, 5 Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 6 Dasun Shanaka (capt.), 7 Wanindu Hasaranga, 8 Isuru Udana, 9 Lakshan Sandakan, 10 Dushmantha Chameera, 11 Kasun Rajitha.
India: (possible) 1 Shikhar Dhawan (capt.), 2 Prithvi Shaw, 3 Suryakumar Yadav, 4 Manish Pandey, 5 Ishan Kishan (wk), 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Krunal Pandya, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Navdeep Saini/Deepak Chahar, 10 Kuldeep Yadav/Varun Chakravarthy/Rahul Chahar, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal.
Pitch and conditions
The R Premadasa Stadium last hosted ODIs in 2019, and was a characteristically high scoring ground. That should stay as it is, at least for the first few games on this tour. The temperatures aren’t expected to get high, but the humidity will be prevalent and there is a reasonable chance of rain.
Stats and trivia
“These are talented youngsters, who’ve done well for their respective IPL teams. I don’t think they need much guidance. I talk to them if they need something. We never try to complicate things. We have Rahul Dravid [head coach] with us here and he’s guiding them well. Being a senior player, talking to them is not rocket science.”
Bhuvneshwar Kumar says there isn’t an air of this being an inexperienced Indian squad.
Varun Shetty is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
(With Inputs from ESPN)
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