India and Sri Lanka will come up against each other for a three-match T20I series in what will be the Indian team’s first international assignment of the decade.
It will be played in the buildup to the Virat Kohli-led side’s march towards the WT20 that will be held in Australia in October this year.
The home team’s previous contest was against West Indies where they triumphed 2-1 in both the T20I and the ODI series’. In this preview of the entire series, we analyze various factors that would turn out to be crucial eventually.
Factors that will be crucial for India in this series:
1: How will Jasprit Bumrah turn up?
All eyes will be on Bumrah and his comeback. Image: AP
Jasprit Bumrah’s injury layoff comes to an end as he will make a comeback in this series. He was seen training with the team during the time when the men from The Caribbean toured last month. These few months’ period was probably the first time that Bumrah had to endure some time away from the Indian team due to injury issues.
It is never convenient for a pacer to make a return to the international circuit seamlessly and hence it remains to be seen whether Bumrah settles into the groove and is able to adjust and adapt to the sometimes crucifying demands that the rigors of playing the sport at the highest level would throw at him.
2: Will Sanju Samson get a chance to prove his mettle?
Will Sanju Samson finally get the chance he deserves? Image: BCCI
Sanju Samson has been in the squad for the last two T20I series but the presence of Rishabh Pant means that the right-hander hasn’t received an opportunity or a long run to demonstrate his talent in the international stage. He was roped in as a backup for Pant who still hasn’t really delivered consistent performances in T20Is.
On the other hand, Samson’s name has been doing the rounds the entire year as his naturally elegant and rather flawless style of play makes up for a treat for the audience. With Rohit Sharma being rested from this series, Samson might well finally receive a chance in the middle-order. However, there’s a catch there too as Manish Pandey needs to be given some games for having sat on the sidelines for a considerably long period and hence the management might have to eventually decide between them two to play all three matches of this series.
3: Which way does the management go with the spinners?
After a short sidelining of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, the duo was roped back in the squad in recent times and they have done fairly well to hold on to their places on the team. Accordingly, the management might as well look to drift apart from the off-spinning all-rounder strategy that they were trying to build upon keeping an eye upon the depth of the batting order with the World T20 in sight.
Howsoever effective might those all-rounders be, the sheer quality and guile that the likes of Chahal and Kuldeep possess are sort of incomparable until you bring in the proper three-dimensional ability of Ravindra Jadeja in the table. With the grounds in Australia possibly favoring the wrist-spinners due to their vast dimensions, it would be conducive to see Yadav and Chahal get a run of games on a stretch together.
Key Players for India in the Series:
1: KL Rahul:
KL Rahul has grabbed his opportunity with both hands. Image: AP
KL Rahul snapped at the opportunity put forth in front of him upon Shikhar Dhawan’s injury as he played a couple of brilliant knocks in the series against West Indies to ensure that he gets a prominent enough run in the starting XI; not just because of his talent, but also because of the fact that he is arguably India’s best batsman in the shortest format of the game. Rahul’s swashbuckling yet classy style of play attracts runs aplenty in the field restricted overs and he is lethargically comfortable, possesses a lazy elegance of sorts whilst facing either the pacers or the spinners as well in any stage of the innings. He will play a key role to set the tone of the innings in the three matches against Sri Lanka.
2: Rishabh Pant:
Rishabh Pant brought up his first half-century in ODIs last month against West Indies. It was a breath of fresh air for the lad who has suffered numerous criticisms about his overall approach and style of play, and the rather reckless manner in which he finds a way to dismiss himself during crucial junctures of the game.
With a successful ODI series against West Indies behind his back, Pant would be vouching for another fairly good series against Sri Lanka who themselves aren’t really a threatening opposition in the current circumstances. This provides Rishabh a chance to get some valuable runs under his belt and accordingly gain further confidence as we approach closer to the World T20 tournament.
1st T20I-5th January, 2020: Barsapara Stadium, Assam
2nd T20I-7th January, 2020: Holkar Stadium, Indore
3rd T20I-10th January 2020: MCA Stadium, Pune