Can Sri Lanka, India cope with absence of key players?

Sri Lanka v India, 1st T20I, Nidahas Trophy, Premadasa March 05, 2018

Big Picture

India going into the Nidahas T20I tri-series without many of their first-choice players has somewhat levelled the playing field. Captain Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Hardik Pandya and Kuldeep Yadav have all been rested.

Sri Lanka will also miss some of their key players: Angelo Mathews, Asela Gunaratne and fast bowler Shehan Madushanka, who bagged a hat-trick on ODI debut in Bangladesh, are unavailable through injury.

Suranga Lakmal and Nuwan Pradeep return to bolster the pace attack, but Sri Lanka will have to be wary of India's strong bench strength. Allrounders Deepak Hooda, Vijay Shankar and Washington Sundar, fast bowler Mohammed Siraj, and wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant have only played five T20Is among them, but are used to playing under pressure in the IPL. Rohit Sharma, the stand-in captain, meanwhile will look to hit form after an underwhelming tour of South Africa. The return of Suresh Raina adds meat to the middle order, which also includes Manish Pandey.

Sri Lanka will aim to build on the gains made in the limited-overs series in Bangladesh. Kusal Mendis has bedded in at the top while Thisara Perera and Dasun Shanaka have boosted the middle order. Akila Dananjaya, who can bowl offbreaks as well as legbreaks, and Isuru Udana are capable of supporting Lakmal and Thisara with the ball.

Form guide

Sri Lanka: WWLLL (last five completed matches, most recent first)

India: WLWWW

In the spotlight

After making back-to-back fifties in Bangladesh, Kusal Mendis repeated the feat at home in the domestic T20 tournament for Colombo Cricket Club. Can he continue his excellent form in the Nidahas Trophy?

Sri Lanka might have nightmares of Rohit Sharma, who slammed 118 off 43 balls in the last bilateral T20 series between the two sides in December. In all, Rohit has hit 278 runs in 11 innings against Sri Lanka at a strike-rate of 146.31.

Team news

Kusal Perera, Suranga Lakmal and Dushmantha Chameera might return to the XI. Having secured a thumping series win in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka might not tinker too much with their team.

Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Kusal Mendis, 2 Danushka Gunathilaka, 3 Kusal Perera, 4 Upul Tharanga, 5 Dasun Shanaka, 6 Thisara Perera, 7 Dinesh Chandimal (capt & wk), 8 Akila Dananjaya, 9 Amila Aponso, 10 Suranga Lakmal, 11 Dushmantha Chameera

Dinesh Karthik will tussle with Pant for the wicketkeeper's spot. Yuzvendra Chahal and Jaydev Unadkat are likely to return to the XI despite being left out for the third T20I in Cape Town. Sundar will compete with Hooda for the allrounder's spot, while KL Rahul, who hasn't played a T20I since December 2017, might get a game in the absence of key players.

India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 KL Rahul, 5 Manish Pandey, 6 Rishabh Pant/Dinesh Karthik (wk), 7 Washington Sundar/Deepak Hooda, 8 Yuzvendra Chahal, 9 Shardul Thakur, 10 Axar Patel, 11 Jaydev Unadkat

Pitch and conditions

The Premadasa pitches are known to be low and slow, but they are likely to help the fast bowlers at the start of the T20I tri-series. There is a slim chance of a thunderstorm in the evening.

Stats and trivia

  • Two of the top-ten scorers in T20 cricket feature in this tournament - Suresh Raina (7275) and Rohit Sharma (6587)

  • India newbie Vijay Shankar bowled offspin until he was 20 but switched to medium-pace in a bid to break into his spin-heavy state side, Tamil Nadu

  • Deepak Hooda, the other India rookie, has a strike-rate of 143.48 in 79 T20 matches


"We will open with whoever we feel will play the best. We'll look at the other teams' strengths and limitations before coming to that decision also."
Sri Lanka coach Chandika Hathurusingha is not giving anything away on team combination

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