The Test series was a complete mismatch. The World No.1 ranked side India was just too good for the Sri Lankans. The hosts didn’t have any answer to the might of the Virat Kohli-led team. Not once did they have the upper hand in any of the 3 Tests. Although India was expected to win the series yet no one would have thought that Sri Lanka would surrender that way.
The inevitable indeed happened as a 3-0 whitewash was always on the cards. The cricket now moves to colored clothing but the nightmares of the whites won’t leave the hosts so easily. The way India dominated would be on the back of their minds. Even though India would once again be the favorites to win the ODI Trophy as well, there is plenty to look forward to.
The Island nation suffered probably the worst defeat in its cricketing history when they lost the ODI series to Zimbabwe last month. The African country won 3-2 and looked the better side on most occasions. The confidence of the Sri Lankan players would have hit the lowest and the crushing loss in the Test series didn’t help their cause either.
They also have made a few changes to their squads but the core of the team remains the same. A lot would depend on the skipper Upul Tharanga who along with seniors like Angelo Mathews and Lasith Malinga, needs to lift the spirits of the team and lead by example. They would also seek inspiration from the last meeting of the 2 teams where Sri Lanka defeated India in the Champions Trophy league game.
Looking at the squad, it has a good mix of experienced players and youngsters and by no means, they should go down to India like they did in the longest format of the game. The talent is there but it’s time to put in the hard yards to stand a chance against the mighty Indians.
There were speculations that Virat Kohli would be rested from the limited overs series but he refused any such reports and made himself available to lead the side. But Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami were the notable names who have been given a break and won’t feature in the team for the rest of the tour.
Yuvraj Singh missed out due to lack of fitness and as many as 7 changes were made to the Indian squad from the last tour to Windies. The likes of Manish Pandey and Jasprit Bumrah have returned to the side and would be expected to make the cut. The youngsters would be itching to grab the opportunity at hand. Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Shardul Thakur would look to cement their places in the XI. KL Rahul is expected to bat in the middle-order.
Despite the absence of some settled players, the side looks strong and has the potential to make a light work of the opposition. Unless the Sri Lankan team pulls off something extraordinary, India should be able to win another series on the tour.
Players to watch out for:
The wicketkeeper batsman impressed a lot in the Test series versus India. His attacking instincts were the highlight of the whole batting line-up. In the last ODI series against Zimbabwe, he had scored 266 runs in 5 matches that included 2 centuries as well. He will be a vital cog in the batting line-up once more. Opening the batting, he can put the Indian bowlers under pressure from the outset with some explosive shots that could well set the tone.
There is an increased demand for wrist spinners in the limited overs game over the course of the last couple of years. Chahal was impressive the last time he played for India. He bagged the best figures by an Indian in T20I cricket while playing against England earlier this year. He has made a comeback to the side and a good performance may well fix a place in the side for the future.
Sri Lanka: Upul Tharanga (c), Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Chamara Kapugedera, Milinda Siriwardana, Malinda Pushpakumara, Akila Dananjaya, Lakshan Sandakan, Thisara Perera, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lasith Malinga, Dushmantha Chameera, Vishwa Fernando
India: Virat Kohli(c), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma (vc), KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shardul Thakur, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah