Despite missing out on the World Cup glory, 2019 emerged out to be one of the most successful years for Virat Kohli and Co. The Indian team ended their 2019 on a high after decimating Bangladesh and West Indies at home. In pursuit of World Cup T20 triumph in 2020, the Men in Blue start this year’s campaign against Sri Lanka. With a better ranking, on-paper squad and astounding current form, India will have an upper hand while locking horns with Sri Lanka at home.
All eyes will be on two Indian stalwarts- Shikhar Dhawan and Jasprit Bumrah, who will mark their return to the international stage after getting sidelined due to injuries. KL Rahul has been successful in filling the void of Shikhar Dhawan as the opener of the team. However, with Rohit Sharma being rested for the T20 series, the left-hander has the opportunity to make the competition for the opening spot more fierce.
Virat Kohli and KL Rahul starred with the bat in both wins against Bangladesh. The duo will be eager to continue their recent exploits. Jasprit Bumrah, on the other hand, has been an indispensable part of the Indian bowling force since a couple of years. While Deepak Chahar hogged the headlines due to his impressive 6/7 against Bangladesh.
The Islanders were annihilated 3-0 by Australia in their most recent T20 series and skipper Lasith Malinga will be keen to improve on a poor captaincy record in T20 cricket in 2019. Moreover, former skipper Angelo Mathews will be marking his return to the squad. Kusal Perera and Bhanuka Rajapaksa have also delivered impressive performances with the bat in recent matches.
Isuru Udana, who was snapped up by RCB in the IPL 2020 auction for his all-round abilities, will be keen to showcase his potential. With only two wins in their last five matches, Sri Lanka will be hoping to start their 2020 campaign on a positive note.
Pitch and Conditions
The Barsapara Stadium wicket favours batting, with a flat pitch and short boundaries conducive to high scoring. Showers are on the cards but with minimal disruption to the game. The temperature is expected to hover around 21 degrees Celcius with a bit of wind to blow the rain away, according to AccuWeather.
The batting strength of India has been in sensational form. Along with the consistency of Virat Kohli, India will also be bolstered with the likes of KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer and Shikhar Dhawan. All eyes will be on youngster Navdeep Saini, who will partner Jasprit Bumrah in India’s pace bowling force. Washington Sundar was not included in the playing XI in the previous T20I series, something that he would like to change against by making his debut against the Sri Lankan side.
Predicted XI: Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar, Shivam Dube/Shardul Thakur, Navdeep Saini, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal/Kuldeep Yadav
With the addition of Angelo Mathews, Sri Lanka now have a commendable bowling line-up. Mathews will be joined by Udana and Malinga. Known for his toe-crushing yorkers and slingy action, Malinga- the veteran pacer- will be keen to prove his worth. Kusal Perera, who recently smashed a brilliant half-century against Australia in the T20I series, is expected to carry his prolific run-scoring form. He will be assisted by Rajapaksa, who has also been delivering impressive performances in the Bangladesh Premier League.
Predicted XI: Kusal Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Kusal Perera, Angelo Mathews, Dasun Shanaka, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Dhananjaya de Silva, Isuru Udana, Lasith Malinga (c), Lakshan Sandakan/Wanindu Hasaranga, Lahiru Kumara
Probable Top Performers
KL Rahul– India | Kusal Perera- Sri Lanka
TV – Star Sports 1, Star Sports 1 HD
Match Timings – 19:00 IST, and 13:30 GMT.
The prediction is for India to win the match.
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