Even before the start of the Sri Lankan tour, it was pretty clear that the visiting Indian side were outright favourites going into the Tests and One-Day Internationals. A 3-0 whitewash in the Test series followed by a 5-0 humbling of the hosts in ODIs underlined India’s dominance, but what was discomforting was the manner in which the contests panned out.
Sri Lanka’s performance turned out to be worse than a lower-ranked West Indies, who have been plagued with longstanding problems, and weren’t even a part of Champions Trophy 2017.
For Sri Lanka though, their best chance would surely be in the shortest format of the game as the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo gets ready to host the final match of the tour on Wednesday. There is no denying the fact that the shorter the format of the game, greater is the chance of an upset.
The Sri Lankans have had a positive record this year has been T20s with the islanders registering five wins against three losses. Against South Africa, the Lankans came from 0-1 down to winning the remaining two games and took the series 2-1, and then, went on to defeat Australia 2-1 early in 2017. Then in April, Sri Lanka tied their series against Bangladesh 1-1. However, South Africa and Australia didn’t come with their strongest sides.
Meanwhile, India did win the series 2-1 against England earlier this year but do not have happy memories from the last T20 they played as they ran into a rampaging Evin Lewis of the West Indies, who blew them away with a whirlwind century a couple of months back.
But this Sri Lankan T20 side is no match for India unlike their West Indian counterparts. Virat Kohli and his men will look to cap off the tour without a single blemish.
During the ODI series, Kohli experimented with the batting order as part of the policy in preparation for the 2019 World Cup and gave every member of the side a run in the middle.
For the one-off T20, it will be interesting to see who opens the innings for the Men in Blue as Shikhar Dhawan has returned home to be with his ailing mother. We have seen Kohli open the innings against West Indies a couple of months ago and also against England earlier in the year. Conventional wisdom suggests, though, that Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul might start the proceedings for India and we might see Kohli back in his usual No 3 position.
As far as the bowling is concerned – Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and all-rounder Hardik Pandya – will make up the seam bowling attack, while the team management will have to choose two spinners out of Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.
The Sri Lankan cricket board released a revised squad for the T20 on Monday bringing in the services of leg-spinner Jeffrey Vandersay and seam-bowling all-rounder Dasun Shanaka. It will also be Upul Tharanga’s first match as a full-time T20 captain.
Lasith Malinga will lead the fast bowlers, while Suranga Lakmal, Vikum Sanjaya and Isuru Udana will vie for a place in the playing XI.
Sri Lanka will have to select among Wanindu Hasaranga, Thisara Perera and Milinda Siriwardana for the all-rounder's role.
Inclusion of Vandersay ahead of left-arm wrist-spinner Lakshan Sandakan was a surprising one as he has not featured in a T20 for the national side since the World T20 last year in which he put up a creditable performance with three wickets in as many games at a perfectly acceptable economy of 5.16.
However, while both teams gear up for the last game of the tour, there is a slight chance that the match might be disturbed due to rain.
Absolutely pouring in Colombo since last night. 🌧️🌧️
— Chetan Narula (@chetannarula) September 5, 2017
Colombo has been experiencing rains since the past couple of days and due to which the teams couldn't practise on Tuesday. The forecast for Wednesday isn't the best either as more rain is expected.
Sri Lanka squad: Upul Tharanga (c), Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Dilshan Munaweera, Dasun Shanaka, Milinda Siriwardana, Wanidu Hasaranga, Akila Dananjaya, Jeffrey Vandersay, Isuru Udana, Seekkuge Prasanna, Thisara Perera, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal and Vikum Sanjaya.
India squad: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shardul Thakur.
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