India finished the year 2019 on a high. They won both the T20I and ODI series 2-1 against a spirited West Indies side. They start the year 2020 with a three-match T20I series against Sri Lanka. This was originally supposed to be a series against Zimbabwe but their suspension by the ICC (which has been revoked) prompted BCCI to scrap that and invite Sri Lanka.
It is the year of the T20 World Cup and the ‘Men in Blue’ will play a lot more games in the shortest format. That starts from the series against Sri Lanka. India haven’t been at their best in T20 cricket. In fact, in 2019, India won nine and lost seven games in the shortest format. Thus, they will be eyeing some consistency and gain some momentum as they build towards the mega event which is scheduled to take place in Australia.
The selectors have named a 15-man squad and there are a few changes from the team that played against West Indies. Fast bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Deepak Chahar are injured and hence, they have been replaced by Jasprit Bumrah and Navdeep Saini. Meanwhile, Rohit Sharma has been rested and Shikhar Dhawan is back in the squad.
With less than a week to go for the first T20I which will be played at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium in Guwahati, let’s take a look at the predicted XI for India.
Here’s India’s Predicted Playing XI for the T20I series against Sri Lanka:
KL Rahul has been in fantastic form in the recent past. He was constantly in and out of the white-ball teams with Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan opening the batting. However, the latter’s injury gave him an opportunity and he’s grabbed it with both hands.
The Karnataka opener scored runs in both the T20Is and ODIs against West Indies. He made 164 runs in the three-match T20I series which included a couple of half-centuries. In the ODI series, he failed in the first game but came back strongly as he registered scores of 102 and 77.
Rahul looked confident and was hitting the ball beautifully. He’s looked in great touch and another good series will cement his place as India’s No. 1 T20I opener (if he already isn’t).
Shikhar Dhawan is back in the team and with Rohit Sharma rested, he is set to open with KL Rahul. The Delhi left-hander was ruled out of the T20I and ODI series against West Indies due to a leg injury. He is now back to full fitness and he even played a Ranji Trophy game for Delhi to prove his fitness. Dhawan even scored a fluent 140 in the first innings.
He had a sluggish 2019 as far as T20Is are concerned. After a fine 2018, Dhawan’s T20I career once again hit multiple roadblocks. He could muster only 272 runs at an average of 22.66 and a strike-rate of 110.56 in the shortest format. He failed to score a single fifty in 2019. In fact, the Delhi opener’s career numbers in T20I cricket aren’t great either.
Thus, this is an important series for Dhawan. With Rahul doing really well and Rohit a certainty and also, the duo combining well together as an opening pair, a poor series may result in Dhawan falling out of India’s T20 plans.
Virat Kohli (C)
It was a fine year for Virat Kohli in T20I cricket. The Indian captain was the leading batsman for his team and ended as the highest run-getter as well. He scored 466 runs at an average of 77.66.
His strike-rate (147.93) and the way he adapted himself to different situations was impressive. Kohli was ready to bat through the innings and go through the gears or he was ready to go hammer and tongs from the word go. Kohli has been batting really well and will be one to watch out for.
Moreover, the Indian skipper has an excellent T20 record against Sri Lanka. He has scored a half-century in every game that he’s played against the Islanders. In four innings, he has scored 283 runs at an average of 94.33 against Sri Lanka.
Shreyas Iyer didn’t have the best of T20I series against West Indies as he scored just 14 runs. But he didn’t bat at No. 4 even once in that series. However, he roared back into form with a solid performance in the ODI series. He showed that he can bat in multiple gears and can adapt to different circumstances.
In 2019, the Mumbai batsman scored 143 runs in T20I cricket. He had a middling average of 28.60 but his strike-rate of 145.91 was very impressive. Iyer is very strong against spin and has the ability to score heavily and also, quickly against them.
He has shown that he is the best bet for the coveted No. 4 spot in India’s white-ball teams. Thus, he will continue batting at that spot in the upcoming series against Sri Lanka as well.
Rishabh Pant (WK)
There’s a lot of talk around Rishabh Pant. He is in the spotlight irrespective of if he does well or not. His form was an issue going into the series against West Indies. His shot selection was criticised and also, his wicket-keeping has been a bit up and down.
However, Pant did have a good series against the men from the Caribbean. He may not have had huge scores but he did turn his indifferent form around and looked in good touch. He played a couple of useful cameos in the T20I series while he was excellent in the ODI series.
The Delhi wicket-keeper batsman registered scores of 71 and 39 in the first two ODIs and looked in good form. Thus, he will continue as India’s wicket-keeper batsman and will likely bat as a floater and according to the situation of the game, like he did against the West Indies.
With Hardik Pandya still recovering from injury, Shivam Dube will continue as India’s seam-bowling all-rounder. However, Dube hasn’t bowled that much and is largely used as a sixth bowler. In fact, he hasn’t got a lot of opportunities to bat either.
The Mumbai all-rounder has batted only in four out of his six games and even in those, he has remained unbeaten in two of those. However, in one game, he was promoted to No. 3 and Dube cashed in as he struck a confident half-century.
The left-hander scored a 30-ball 54 giving India some momentum in the middle overs. Dube even made his ODI debut against West Indies but didn’t click. He scored just 9 and returned with figures of 0/68.
2019 may have been a very good year for Ravindra Jadeja in Tests and ODIs but the Saurashtra all-rounder has struggled in the shortest format. He has played six T20Is and has scored just 47 runs at a strike-rate of 114.63. While he’s been economical with the ball, he’s picked up just four wickets.
However, India back Jadeja quite a bit. He is a three-dimensional player and can have an impact in every department. There’s no doubt that he is one of India’s best fielders. Moreover, he keeps the run-flow in check with the ball and can be a finisher with the bat.
However, with Pandya nearing full fitness, Jadeja’s place might be under threat. With the T20 World Cup being played in Australia, India might not employ three spinners and play two seam-bowling all-rounders. Hence, Jadeja needs to up his game and put in performances in the shortest format.
Virat Kohli has spoken quite a bit about having batting depth and players batting at 7 and 8 contributing with the bat. Thus, despite Washington Sundar’s low returns, he’s constantly been backed.
The Tamil Nadu off-spinner has the ability to tonk the ball a long way with the bat. With the ball, he can bowl in the powerplay and is very economical. However, 2019 hasn’t been the best of years for him. Sundar hasn’t got a lot of opportunities with the bat while he’s picked up just five wickets from 11 games with the ball.
However, he was good in the series against West Indies. He bowled economically and also picked up a couple of wickets. Having said that, the offie will have to improve his fielding. Sundar dropped a couple of easy catches in the series against West Indies.
India like playing a leg-spinner and with the pitch in Guwahati likely to take turn, India will most likely go in with three spinners. They will have to pick between Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. While the Haryana leg-spinner played the first two T20Is against West Indies, Kuldeep featured in the final T20I and all the three ODIs.
Thus, it looks like Chahal might play ahead of Kuldeep in the upcoming series against Sri Lanka. He has been bowling well and even picked up 2/36 in a high-scoring game in Hyderabad against a rampaging West Indies batting line-up.
Hence, Chahal will be a vital cog in the Indian bowling attack. He can even bowl at the death. It will be interesting to see how Kohli uses him with Bumrah back in the fold.
Jasprit Bumrah is making a comeback into the white-ball side for the first time since the World Cup semi-final. He was rested from the series in the Caribbean and against South Africa at home. He played only two Test matches against West Indies.
Before the Test series against South Africa, the ace Indian pacer was ruled out due to a stress fracture of the back. He seems to have completely recovered and will lead the pace attack. Bumrah will be eager to prove his match fitness ahead of the ODI series against Australia and New Zealand tour as well.
The Gujarat pacer played only two T20Is in 2019 and he picked up three wickets. He conceded runs at 5.75 runs an over. Hence, he will be the one to watch out for in the upcoming series.
Navdeep Saini’s case is pretty curious. He was a part of India’s T20I side in the Caribbean and in the series against South Africa at home. He played five T20Is across those two series and fell out of favour after a couple of disappointing outings.
The Delhi pacer was axed from the team for the series against Bangladesh and West Indies. However, he has returned to the side with the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Deepak Chahar ruled out with injuries. Thus, he might pip Shardul Thakur and make it to the XI and partner Bumrah in the pace attack.
Saini has made quite an impact in a couple of games already in his short international career. He has taken six wickets in five T20Is while he made his ODI debut against West Indies in the final ODI and took 2/58. Hence, he will be looking to rattle the Sri Lankan batting line-up with some raw pace.
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