India have won 13 of the 19 T20Is they have played against Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka would be pretty pleased with their performance in the ODI series against India despite losing it 1-2. It was a young team led by an inexperienced skipper in Dasun Shanaka and coach, Mickey Arthur would also be pretty satisfied for showing character and fighting hard.
They won the final ODI convincingly by 3 wickets and could have won the second ODI as well when they had India on the mat at 193-7. Its another matter that Deepak Chahar had other plans on that day and he ensured that India crossed the finishing line with 3 wickets to spare.
The performances of Sri Lanka cricket team in the last two games would have given them a world of confidence going into the three-match T20I series.
However, Shanaka and Co would be aware of the fact that India can pose a tougher challenge in the T20 format. Team India are filled with destructive power hitters and would be auditioning for the T20 World Cup. Skipper Shikhar Dhawan has already stated that they are going to play with their best XI in the first T20 international.
India would also be aware of the fact that the upcoming T20 series is their only limited-overs series left before the T20 World Cup. The three T20 internationals, thus, are going to be extremely important as far as Indian players are concerned.
Question mark over availability of Prithvi Shaw, Suryakumar Yadav for entire series
While there is no dearth of talent in this Indian batting lineup, the fans would certainly be looking forward to watching how Prithvi Shaw and Suryakumar Yadav fare in the series but there is a question mark on their availability for the entire length of the series if sources are to be believed.
As per reports, both have been called up by the Indian team management to fly down to England for the five-match Test series. However, nothing has been confirmed as to when they will be departing. A source told PTI that they might fly to England either in the middle of the T20 series or immediately after that.
"Yes, Prithvi and Surya are flying to UK from Sri Lanka. Jayant was also supposed to go but there has been some change in plans due to quarantine requirements. Jayant is now not going. Both players will have a bubble to bubble transfer from Colombo to London. Whether they will fly in the middle of the T20 Internationals (Shaw and and Suryakumar are part of team in Sri Lanka) or post that is being worked out," the senior official told PTI.
"But yes, they are our replacement players for Test series in England. They might just leave after the three T20 Internationals but we will get confirmation in another three days."
Both Prithvi Shaw and Suryakumar Yadav ooze class whenever they are on song. Both bat at a healthy strike rate and can take on the opposition right from the word go. The duo played some heart-warming shots in the ODI series and looked in fine touch. Ahead of the T20 World Cup, the series presents a golden opportunity for them to show what they are capable of in the limited time they may get if they do fly to the UK.
In the recent past, India have struggled to counter spin in the middle overs and someone like Suryakumar Yadav could be the answer for them. With so many top-order batsmen in the line-up, he might not get to bat at number three or four. It will be interesting where the team decides him to bat.
Mystery Spinner - Varun Chakravarthy
There is one guy who will be watched keenly - Varun Chakravarthy. The KKR spinner didn’t play any game in the ODI series but is likely to make his debut in the first T20 International. In the last year or so, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav’s stocks have gone down.
The duo hasn’t been able to pick wickets regularly. Amidst all this, the rise of Varun Chakravarthy could keep India in good stead ahead of the T20 World Cup. Chakravarthy has become KRR’s premier bowler in IPL, thanks to his outstanding performances in the last two seasons. He picked 17 wickets in 13 games at an outstanding economy of under 7 in IPL 2020.
He bowled crucial overs in the game and was a go-to bowler for Eoin Morgan in this year’s IPL edition. Chakravarthy has more than 6 variations under his armoury and it will be interesting to see whether Sri Lankan batsmen would be able to pick him well or not.
Sri Lankan players to watch out for
As for Sri Lanka, Avishka Fernando will be their biggest bet in the batting department. He was their star performer in the ODI series. He finished as the highest run-getter in the series with 159 runs and a match-winning 76 in the final ODI. He would be brimming with confidence.
Runs coming from their destructive batsman Bhanuka Rajapaksa in the final ODI has only strengthened their batting unit further. Dhananjaya de Silva didn’t score a plethora of runs in the series but would still be a key player for them. Wanindu Hasaranga is likely to return to the team. If Hasaranga is fit, Praveen Jayawickrama, will make a move for him that means, he has to wait for his T20I debut.
Concerns for India
Indian all-rounder, Hardik Pandya’s fitness is currently the biggest concern for them at the moment. He bowled in the ODI series but looked far from his best. His pace has gone drastically down and couldn’t bowl for more than 5 overs in a single game. Hardik Pandya couldn’t pose a challenge to the opposition with his bowling at the current moment, it seems. He just took two wickets at an economy of about 7 from the 14 overs he bowled.
His numbers with the bat weren’t promising either. Hardik Pandya will be one of the biggest assets for India going ahead at the T20 World Cup. India could face problems if he struggles to bowl at full throttle. Hardik, however, has claimed that he is fully fit and will only get better with more game time. It remains to be seen how he performs with bat and ball in the upcoming three T20Is.
As a side note, in the three ODIs against Sri Lanka, India failed to pick early wickets. This could become a concern if they couldn’t do that in the T20s as well. Both Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Deepak Yadav have to pick wickets early if they ought to put pressure on the opposition.
Who will win the first T20 international between India and Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka’s spinners have posed a lot of problems for Indian batters in the ODI series. They are also coming into the series on the back of a morale-boosting three-wicket win in the final ODI. However, the T20 format is a different ball game altogether and India are filled with power-hitters in their squad. Looking at the team combinations and recent form in the T20 format, India certainly have the edge over the Island nation.
Sri Lanka (Probable XI): 1 Avishka Fernando, 2 Minod Bhanuka (wk), 3 Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 4 Dhananjaya de Silva, 5 Charith Asalanka, 6 Dasun Shanaka (capt), 7 Chamika Karunaratne, 8 Wanindu Hasaranga/Praveen Jayawickrama, 9 Isuru Udana, 10 Dushmantha Chameera, 11 Akila Dananjaya
India (Probable XI): 1 Prithvi Shaw, 2 Shikhar Dhawan (capt), 3 Ishan Kishan (wk), 4 Sanju Samson, 5 Suryakumar Yadav, 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Krunal Pandya/K Gowtham, 8 Deepak Chahar, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Varun Chakravarthy, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
The India-Sri Lanka T20I series will involve three matches to be played on July 25, 27 and 29. All matches will be played in a bio-secure bubble at the R Premadasa Stadium in view of the impending COVID-19 pandemic.