The Men in Blue will look to start off a new decade and a year with a victory as they prepare to square off in the opening T20I against Sri Lanka. There is certainly no doubt about the fact that the hosts will start as outright favourites. India has been by far the superior side among the two in the last decade. In fact, India hasn’t lost a single series against Sri Lanka across all formats in the last 10 years. The Lasith Malinga led Sri Lanka has performed pretty poorly.
Under the speedster, Sri Lanka has lost 9 out of the 10 matches and has only managed to salvage a solitary victory under his leadership so far. It was Malinga who bowled a match-winning spell and bagged 4 wickets in 4 deliveries against New Zealand which remains Sri Lanka’s only T20I victory under him.
After a brilliant ODI series against Pakistan, Sri Lanka struggled in the T20I series and had a horrendous season in Australia. They were beaten black and blue and found no answer in front of a resurgent Australian side. The Lankans have some impressive customers in their ranks who are match-winners on their days. However gelling as a unit has been the main issue for Sri Lanka which might cost them yet again.
India, on the other hand, played a terrific brand of cricket all throughout 2019 barring the disappointment against New Zealand in the 2019 World Cup semi-final. Despite a sensational year for the Men in Blue, they have been found wanting in some of the matches which have resulted in defeats. However, when it came to crunch situations, India has delivered the goods and has managed to seal the series in the last two occasions against Bangladesh and West Indies.
They will be bolstered by the return of Jasprit Bumrah as he has been their spearhead across all formats in the last year. He has been the go-to bowler for Virat Kohli and the speedster has delivered more often than not. The injury lay off won’t bother him as he has been a champion bowler across formats. However, he hasn’t played too many T20I’s which reflects in his ranking.
Meanwhile, India has rested Rohit Sharma for this series. He was India’s most prolific run-scorer in the last year. In the last few years, Sri Lanka’s performance has been below par especially against India. Hence the Men in Blue have never considered them a formidable unit which has resulted in resting main players. Virat Kohli wasn’t part of the last two T20I series against Sri Lanka and in this series, Rohit Sharma has been given the break.
It will be a tough job for the Malinga led Sri Lanka against a star-studded Indian side. However, they will be optimistic of the fact that India hasn’t been the strongest team in the T20I format. They lost the T20I series in New Zealand and was subsequently whitewashed 2-0 against Australia at home.
They managed to draw the series against South Africa and won the series against Bangladesh and West Indies. However, they have lost a game each against all oppositions. Hence Sri Lanka should look to play a positive brand of cricket. Meanwhile, Shikhar Dhawan will be returning to the international fold after missing the series against West Indies owing to an injury.
Probable Playing XI’s
Shikhar Dhawan, 2 KL Rahul, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Shreyas Iyer, 5 Rishabh Pant (wk), 6 Shivam Dube, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Washington Sundar, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, Shardul Thakur, 11 Jasprit Bumrah
Danushka Gunathilaka, 2 Oshada Fernando, 3 Avishka Fernando, 4 Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 5 Kusal Perera (wk), 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Dasun Shanaka, 8 Isuru Udana, 9 Wanindu Hasaranga, 10 Lasith Malinga (capt), 11 Lahiru Kumara
India WLWWW (in the last 5 matches)
Sri Lanka LLLWW