It was no surprise that India won the second T20I against Sri Lanka to take an unassailable 1-0 lead in the three-match series. The hosts were thoroughly professional in Indore as they first restricted the opposition to a below-par total on a flat deck. And then chased it down without even breaking a sweat. While the focus was on Jasprit Bumrah who was making a comeback, Shardul Thakur and Navdeep Saini stole the limelight.
However, India wouldn’t want only the wins in the upcoming matches and the team will be hoping to get tested to the hilt with the T20 World Cup set to be played later this year. Virat Kohli has already spoken about trying different combinations with he himself even batting at number four giving opportunities to other batsmen at three.
The experiment is likely to continue even for the third and final game which will be played in Pune on Friday. As the Men in Blue won’t be losing the series now, we might see a few changes in the line-up in a bid to try a few other players. Having said that, it is tough to read the captain and coach’s mind at this stage and it will be interesting to see who gets the opportunity.
Here we bring you India’s predicted XI for the third T20I against Sri Lanka:
Openers (KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan)
KL Rahul is batting with a sense of maturity now. He seems to be secured of his place in the team. Even in the Indore, the Karnataka batsman unfurled a few majestic drives on his way to 45 off just 32 balls. Rahul also shined in the West Indies T20Is and looks set to be India’s preferred opener in the near future and even in the World Cup in Australia.
Giving him competition is Shikhar Dhawan who has immensely struggled in the last 12-14 months in the shortest format. The pressure is on the southpaw to prove himself with Rahul all guns blazing. The second T20I wasn’t a great one for him as Dhawan looked once again confused about his approach during his 32-run knock which came off 29 deliveries. However, he should retain his place in the XI for this game. But time is running out for Dhawan and should prove his mettle soon.
Middle-Order (Virat Kohli (C), Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (WK))
Virat Kohli should be back batting at three for this match depending upon the situation. There is no question about his form but the man himself wants to be tested in different circumstances. He would love Sri Lanka to put up a fight in the last game which will test India’s untested middle-order which often comes out to bat with the team in a good position.
Shreyas Iyer has grabbed every opportunity to bat with both the hands. Though there would be a temptation to try out Manish Pandey who has been warming the bench for long now, leaving out Iyer would mean hampering his consistency. So the Mumbai lad should continue batting at four.
Rishabh Pant, whether he plays or not, is in the news these days. With Sanju Samson breathing down his neck, Pant needs to be on his toes in almost every game. The management and the captain has backed him every now and then but that should convert into good results for him to continue as the preferred wicketkeeper-batsman in the limited-overs formats.
All-Rounders (Shivam Dube, Washington Sundar)
Shivam Dube didn’t play any role in the second T20I which was surprising. His bowling hasn’t been great and was taken apart by West Indies. If India are grooming him to be a back up for Hardik Pandya, Dube should bowl even more in trying conditions. He has shined with the bat in the limited chances and needs to be consistent to continue staying in the team in the near future.
Washington Sundar has played a lot of games for India in the shortest format now. He is the specialist when it comes to bowling in the powerplay and once again in the previous outing, he provided the Men in Blue with the first breakthrough. Sundar would be hoping to keep playing and performing in the lead up to World Cup to stay confident.
Bowlers (Shardul Thakur, Navdeep Saini, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah)
Shardul Thakur hasn’t done any harm to his chances with a three-wicket haul in Indore T20I. But all those wickets came in the death overs when the batsmen are desperate for runs. The Mumbai pacer would love to pick wickets upfront with the new ball when the team needs it the most. Navdeep Saini is another exciting prospect in the bowling attack and he has impressed many with his pace.
With the rotation policy going on between the wrist spinners, Yuzvendra Chahal should play this game. Kuldeep Yadav fared decently in the last game picking up two wickets for 38 runs. Chahal too deserves an opportunity having warmed the bench for five consecutive matches in the limited-overs formats. Jasprit Bumrah will need more game time ahead of the New Zealand tour. He looked a bit rusty in his comeback and should soon be back to his best.
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