There is no doubt about the fact that the men in blue will surely be starting as favorites to win the Nidahas Trophy, despite the fact that Team India will be without the services of veterans like Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Kuldeep Yadav.
While the visitors made the deliberate choice of resting the top guns, Sri Lanka’s is a forced one, as their star all-rounder and captain Angelo Mathews have been ruled out due to an injury again. On the form front, India finds themselves in the pink of health, after winning the ODI leg 5-1 and the T20I series 2-1 against South Africa. Sri Lanka, too, has for now gathered themselves better and the wins in Bangladesh – across the tri-nation ODI series, and bilateral Tests and T20I series in Bangladesh – will give them some confidence.
Also read: Stats Preview: Nidahas Trophy (SL vs Ind)
While the hosts can rejoice the absence of players like Kohli, Bumrah, Pandya, etc, they will try to remember that the Indian team which defeated them in December last year is quite similar to the current squad. KL Rahul returns to the line-up against Sri Lanka again having scored 61 and 89 against them in December last year. The series will serve as an immense opportunity for the youngsters like Washington Sundar, Deepak Hooda, Mohammed Siraj, Vijay Shankar and Rishabh Pant at the R. Premadasa Stadium on Monday (March 5).
Pitch and Weather conditions
The humidity levels are only going to get worse as it blasts up to 79 percent on match day with the skies being partly cloudy. Although, all games are scheduled to be played under lights, the stickiness in the weather will challenge the players in the middle.
During the practice sessions on Monday, Team India didn’t leave any stone unturned, while Rohit, Dhawan, and Rahul took the first hit in the three nets facility in the stadium complex, Raina was the next to knock a few. With doubts hovering over the bowling makeup, Vijay Shankar bowling at a full threshold for close to an hour makes for a case to study. Jaydev Unadkat and Axar Patel were the usual suspects, with the latter certain to start having spent his time on the sidelines with wristspinners having taken precedence earlier. Washington Sundar too had a long session, hinting at India’s plans of keeping themselves spin-heavy.
Also read: Indian Circketers Wins Big In TOI Awards
On the other hand, with Dickwella ignored for the series, Kusal Perera is set to take over the wicketkeeping duties on Tuesday. Apart from that, the Islanders might not look to change much with their composition, especially after the head coach Chandika Hathurusingha touched upon on the importance of ‘starting well’.
India: Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Suresh Raina, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Vijay Shankar/Washington Sundar, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jaydev Unadkat.
Sri Lanka: Upul Tharanga, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, Dinesh Chandimal (c), Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Jeevan Mendis, Akila Dananjaya, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep