When was the last time you heard of two Indian teams travelling for different international assignments in the same timeframe?
In the year 1998, two different national teams led by Ajay Jadeja and Mohammed Azharuddin respectively participated in different tournaments in the same month. Mohammed Azharuddin led the Indian side in a five-match series against Pakistan in Toronto, while Jadeja led a different team for Commonwealth Games scheduled in Kuala Lumpur. It is worth mentioning here that Commonwealth Games had only List-A status and not international.
A similar event is to take place in the coming days as BCCI is all set to finalise a white-ball squad for an upcoming tour to Sri Lanka. The big names such as Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah amongst others won’t be part of the squad as they would be in England to play against New Zealand in the World Test Championship (WTC) final, followed by a Test series against the host country.
While the squad for the WTC final has been announced, BCCI hasn’t yet selected the side which will travel to Sri Lanka for three ODIs and as many T20 internationals.
There is no denying that India, over the years, have become a side to beat, especially at home. The Indian Premier League deserves a lot of credit for that. No longer the team depends on a handful of fast bowlers to tackle the opposition. India’s bench strength has become so strong over the years that BCCI can now even select a second-string side and send them to a different nation to play a series.
With most of their key players going to the UK for the long tour, who all will make it into the second team for the Sri Lanka series? Let us talk about the players who could make the cut for the side.
The Experienced Campaigners
While most of the experiencers campaigners would be in UK to play the upcoming Tests, the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shreyas Iyer amongst others could be the ones to offer experience in Sri Lanka.
Shikhar Dhawan is most likely to handed the captaincy duties, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar would lead the pace attack. Shreyas Iyer, who is recuperating from his shoulder injury, would be hoping to get fit by the time India leave for the Emerald Island.
The Young Brigade
The white-ball series will present itself as a golden opportunity for Indian youngsters with the T20 World Cup coming up this year. Prithvi Shaw, Devdutt Padikkal and Rahul Chahar amongst other youngsters will all be in the fray to make it into the squad. They would be keen to make the most of the opportunity and exhibit strong performances on the big stage.
T Natarajan and Prasidh Krishna have both made their appearances in Indian colours. The white-ball series will be crucial for them as well.
The Ones to Watch Out for
It’s been a while since we have watched something special from Indian all-rounder, Hardik Pandya. He endured a poor run in the recently suspended Indian Premier League 2021. Also, not including him in the red-ball squad for the WTC final and England series has raised a lot of eyebrows.
Hardik Pandya’s hasn’t bowled regularly for the side for the past three years now. It would be interesting to see if he would bowl in the upcoming series or will we be seeing him only as a specialist batsman in the side.
For someone like Shikhar Dhawan, the white-ball series will perhaps be the last chance to knock the doors for the Indian T20 World Cup side. He has been in superlative form through this year’s curtailed IPL and would be raring to go out in the middle and produce something magical against Sri Lanka.
Suryakumar Yadav would certainly be one of the guys to watch out for. The MI batsman has made a lot of noise in the past couple of years and has even made a place for himself in India’s T20 side. However, he had a forgettable season in IPL 2021 and would be hoping to have great white-ball series in Sri Lanka.
Here’s how our probable India squad for the Sri Lanka tour looks like:
Shikhar Dhawan (c), Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya (vc), Krunal Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Deepak Chahar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Navdeep Saini, T Natarajan, Rahul Chahar, Varun Chakravarthy, Sanju Samson, Manish Pandey, Prasidh Krishna, Kuldeep Yadav
What Sri Lanka has in stock for the series?
Sri Lanka will travel to Bangladesh and England to play the white-ball series between May and July before they play against India at home. Ahead of the Bangladesh tour, Sri Lanka Cricket have named a new white-ball captain in Kusal Perera.
Also, the experienced campaigners including Dimuth Karunaratne, Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal have been excluded from the squad. With an eye on the T20 World Cup, Sri Lanka will be testing a few youngsters. By the time they play against India, one should get to know who could make a difference for them in the series against Men in Blue. For now, one has to wait and see how they play in the upcoming series.
The ODI series between the two sides will kick off at R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on July 13 and will conclude after the third match at the same venue on July 19.
The T20I series would be held at the same venue between July 22 and July 27.