The new year has begun and the Men in Blue are all set to start their year with a three-match T20 International series against Sri Lanka, starting from January 5. The Indian cricket team will be looking to carry on the momentum they had last year with a thumping victory over the visitors while the Islanders would look to upset the home side in their own backyard.
Both the teams have played 16 matches against each other in the shortest format of the game. India has won 11 games out of those 16 games while Sri Lanka has only managed to win 5.
The first game will take place on January 5 at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium in Guwahati.
The side led by Virat Kohli has been a force to be reckoned with in recent times. The amount of experience that India has in the side right now gives them an extra edge in this series. However, the team’s prolific T20I batsman Rohit Sharma has been rested for the tournament. But the Indian team won’t be thinking too much about this omission because Shikhar Dhawan makes a comeback into the team after being out of the side since November due to injury.
Dhawan will be itching to get some runs in his briefcase and start 2020 with a bang. His last fifty in T20Is came against Australia in 2018 at Brisbane. The Delhi batsman would be needed to come out strong at the top of the order if India has to post a match-winning total on the scoreboard.
Other than Dhawan, all eyes will be on Virat Kohli when India takes on Sri Lanka in the first T20I. Kohli was India’s leading run-getter last year. He scored 466 runs in 10 games with an average of 77.
Another player who is making a return to the side is none other than Jasprit Bumrah. Bumrah suffered a stress fracture after the completion of India’s tour of West Indies in August. The Indian speedster underwent assessment and completely recovered himself at the right time. The recent series against West Indies proved that India was badly missing a bowler like Bumrah in the side, who would just come in and bamboozle the batting side with his accuracy and pace.
Bumrah will get the much-needed assistance from pacers like Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur. On the other hand, the spin department will be spearheaded by the dynamic duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. Popularly known by the name “KulCha,” they will be needed to provide the much-needed breakthroughs in the middle overs.
Players like KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, and Washington Sundar will also be crucial to the team’s success in the series.
The Islanders are coming into this series after being thumped 3-0 in the recently concluded series against Australia. The side led by Lasith Malinga will be looking to upset the Indian team by giving some really amazing performances in the upcoming games. To strengthen the batting department, Angelo Mathews has been called back into the team after a gap of 16 months.
His last game in the shortest format came against South Africa in the year 2018. Though there are some happy memories related to that game as he led his side to a three-wicket victory over the Proteas but sadly failed to impress by his individual performance. He scored a duck in the match.
On the other hand, Kasun Rajitha has also been included in the 16-member squad and will replace pacer Nuwan Pradeep in the side. Pradeep sustained an injury during practice and will not be part of the series.
Lasith Malinga will be the most important player for the Lankan team. Even if he is on the wrong side of the age, Malinga still has the firepower to completely destroy any batting line-up with his impeccable bowling skills. Last year, he took 14 wickets at an average of 17.92 in 10 T20 International games. But the team certainly needs a better performance from the batters. Avishka Fernando, Niroshan Dickwella, and Kusal Perera would have to come out good if they need to win the series.
Although, their record in India is not good. Both the teams have played 8 games against each other in India, with Sri Lanka winning on just 2 occasions. The Islanders would have to be at the premium level to beat a team like India in the format that they have been dominating in recent times.
Head to Head:
Total Matches – 16
India Won – 11
Sri Lanka Won – 5
India: Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli ( c ), Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (WK), Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini.
Sri Lanka: Danushka Gunathilaka, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Kusal Perera, Angelo Mathews , Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Dasun Shanaka, Isuru Udana, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lahiru Kumara, Lakshan Sandakan, Lasith Malinga ( c ).