India's tour of Sri Lanka is turning out to a draggy, dour one-sided affair but with these teams are set for a face off in a five match one day series after the three Tests. The excitement is set to go up a notch considering the teams played out a thriller in the Champions Trophy two months back, when Sri Lanka chased down a mammoth 321.
India have already made two 600-plus scores in the two Tests in Sri Lanka and they seem like a well oiled machine that can barely get anything wrong at the moment. But One Day cricket is a tricky affair and one or two good days could see Sri Lanka topple the Indians.
That said, this is one of those meaningless bilateral series and considering the 2019 World Cup, India would be kicking themselves if they do not start identifying their right players for the major tournament.
Kohli had hinted that he had certain preferences for the one day squad in a recent press conference.
“We are going to sit down on selection soon and we certainly have plans in mind and combinations that we want to speak about. So as captain I am definitely in the thick of things and know what to speak to the committee about," Kohli said.
The indications are that India could welcome some new faces, while the focus will also be on the future of some stalwart players like Yuvraj Singh.
But who comes in? Are there enough talents out there to push those in the current setup? Can the Sri Lanka series be used to try out some reserve players? There are a lot of questions left to be answered. Here's a look at five players who should be given a chance in the upcoming ODIs.
An attacking top order batsman with a fearless attitude and flamboyant batting style, Shreyas Iyer has been knocking on Indian selectors' door for quite some time now. The 2015 IPL emerging player of the year has a spectacular First-class record but a less than extravagant List A record.
That said, some players turn on the screws at the right moment and Iyer seems to be one of those given the manner in which he slammed the South African A side to all corners of the park in a recent tri-series final. Iyer made 140* in 131 balls, coming in at number three, helping his team ace a chase of 268 without much trouble.
With Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan set at the top, Iyer could be a standby opener or could also play a Suresh Raina kind of role in the middle-order.
Jaydev Unadkat had a disastrous Test debut in South Africa and never played a Test again but returned to the One Day squad in 2013 to put in a few decent performances. However, his outings weren't really impressive and his career seemed to be spiralling down until Rising Pune Supergiant picked him in IPL 2017.
He finished the season with 24 wickets in 12 matches, next only to Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and was a vital cog in the Supergiant's setup. What stood out was his economy rate of 7.02 inspite of bowling a lot of his overs in the death. He was steady during his spells and contained runs with the new ball.
While his T20 exploits should ideally earn him a place only in the T20 squad, the manner in which he went about his business at the death makes him a real option for the ODIs. India also do not have a left-arm seamer at the moment in the ODI squad and Unadkat could add a new dimension to the bowling attack with his change of pace and cutters in the final overs.
His brother Hardik is already making rapid strides in international cricket and is a trusted ally of the captain. Krunal, though, shot to limelight only through the IPL where he put in eye-catching all-round performances for the Mumbai Indians in the last two editions of the tournament.
A tidy left-arm spinner in the Ravindra Jadeja mould, Krunal is an exceptional striker of the ball and arguably out-batted his brother in last two IPL seasons. Krunal’s ability to catch the game by the scruff of its neck earned him rave reviews in the IPL and he could be a like-for-like replacement for Jadeja.
Jadeja requires a break and if India need a similar kind of bowler, Krunal should get the call-up ahead of Axar Patel, who has been tried and tested in that role before. The other Pandya also offers much more with the bat and on the field than Axar.
The dynamic Delhi Daredevils wicket-keeper is already touted as MS Dhoni’s successor and his inclusion in the ODI squad for West Indies came as no surprise. A powerful striker of the ball and a good keeper, Pant has already turned several heads with his wham-bam approach to batting. A triple hundred and a 48 ball hundred in First-class cricket further established his credentials.
Although Dhoni should be in the squad, Pant should be in and around the setup before the Jharkhand man retires. He could imbibe invaluable lessons from the legendary former skipper and even if he doesn't play in the final XI, like he didn't in the West Indies, Pant should be retained in the squad. That said, it would be nice to give him a game or two in Sri Lanka.
A terrific cricketer, Manish Pandey shot to limelight by becoming the first Indian to score a hundred in the IPL, when he played for the Royal Challengers Bangalore franchise. Later, he became a crucial player for Kolkata Knight Riders and established himself in the India A squads.
India call-up came soon and he made people sit up and take notice when he slammed an unbeaten 104 in Australia to seal a run chase the Dhoni-way. Injuries have clouded his continuous participation in the ODI team and he had to stay out of the Champions Trophy after being named in the initial squad.
He returned to the India A side for the tri-series involving South Africa A and Afghanistan A, and scored half-centuries in three of the five games. He also remained unbeaten in four games and looks like an ideal candidate to replace Yuvraj Singh in the Indian ODI line-up.