Big picture: SL eye first T20I series win in India
The last time India lost a bilateral T20I series at home was in 2019 when Australia beat them 2-0. Since then they have been on an 11-series unbeaten streak. But that could change on Saturday.
Sri Lanka’s batters may not put fear in the opposition’s mind, but they understand the grammar of the format. Throughout their innings in the second T20I, Sri Lanka had at least one batter in the middle – Kusal Mendis in the first half and Dasun Shanaka in the second – taking the attack to the bowlers. In Wanindu Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana, they have two have the wiliest spinners going around. If their fast bowlers click, as they did in Pune, they can compete with any side.
India LWTWL (last five completed T20Is, most recent first)
Sri Lanka WLLWL
In the spotlight: Arshdeep Singh and Dasun Shanaka
Despite making his T20I debut only six months ago, Arshdeep Singh was supposed to be the leader of the pace attack in this new-look Indian squad. He missed the first T20I with illness, and then bowled five no-balls in two overs, which cost India 37, in the second. Overstepping has been an old issue with Arshdeep, and it is high time he fixed it.
Team news: Will India, SL make changes?
After the second T20I, Rahul Dravid said that India were not looking to make too many changes unless there was an injury. So expect them to go with an unchanged XI.
India (probable): 1 Ishan Kishan (wk), 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Rahul Tripathi, 4 Suryakumar Yadav, 5 Hardik Pandya (capt), 6 Deepak Hooda, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Shivam Mavi, 9 Umran Malik, 10 Arshdeep Singh, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
Sri Lanka might be facing a selection conundrum. Do they retain the winning combination, or try to improve it further by replacing an out-of-form Bhanuka Rajapaksa with Sadeera Samarawickrama? In the recently concluded LPL, Samarawickrama was the second-highest run-getter with 294 runs at an average of 58.80 and a strike rate of 131.25.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Pathum Nissanka, 2 Kusal Mendis (wk), 3 Dhananjaya de Silva, 4 Charith Asalanka, 5 Sadeera Samarawickrama/Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 6 Dasun Shanaka (capt), 7 Wanindu Hasaranga, 8 Chamika Karunaratne, 9 Maheesh Theekshana, 10 Kasun Rajitha, 11 Dilshan Madushanka
Pitch and conditions: Run-fest in Rajkot?
The Rajkot pitch is often compared to the adjacent national highway, so be ready for another run-fest. The teams will be looking to bowl first after winning the toss as this venue favours the chasing team. It’s expected to be a cool evening with clear skies; the temperature should be around 17°C.
“They [Sri Lanka] have got a pretty experienced T20I side in this series. From the World Cup, they haven’t made too many changes to their playing XI. They’ve got some class players. They’ve got a couple of very good spinners, they have got power-hitters at the backend of the game. I think Dasun Shanaka is playing really well. They might have had some tough periods but certainly they are not a side you would take lightly at any stage.”
India head coach Rahul Dravid on his opponents
“It’s not about the mystery, it’s always about the right line and length. If I don’t hit the right line and length, they [batters] will go after me. So while bowling, I always try to focus on that. That’s why I have been continuously doing well in this format.
Maheesh Theekshana reveals the method behind his mystery spin
Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
(With Inputs from ESPN)
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