Legendary off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan has reckoned that while the Shikhar Dhawan-led Team India will start as favorites in the T20I series, Sri Lanka will go into the three-match rubber with a renewed sense of confidence after having won the final ODI.
With the ODI series already in their kitty, Team India rested a whole host of their first-choice players to hand out debuts to as many as five players.
Sri Lanka capitalized big time and courtesy of brilliant performances by their spinners and the batting duo of Avishka Fernando and Bhanuka Rajapaksa pulled one-off to break a ten-match ODI winless streak against India on home soil.
Speaking on ESPNCricinfo, Muralitharan further added that the T20I series will be more crucial for the home as compared to India given the fact that Sri Lanka will have to play the qualifiers to enter the top-12 of the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup in UAE and Oman.
Sri Lanka are placed alongside Netherlands, Ireland, and Namibia in Group A and they gave to finish in the top-2 in order to qualify to the main draw.
‘’I think India will start as favorites. But Sri Lanka has some edge because they believe that they can beat this side. But this is a new series, planning, and everything will be changing,’’ said Muttiah Muralitharan.
‘’I would say in the first game India might have an edge but Sri Lanka will come stronger as well. So, I think it will be a fabulous series of three matches because the [T20] World Cup is on the way. Sri Lanka will have to put on a good show because they are going to play the qualifiers. So, they have to build their side. This series will be more important for Sri Lanka rather than for India,’’ he added.
‘Sri Lanka will be a little more comfortable in T20Is than ODIs’- Muttiah Muralitharan
Sri Lanka have just won one of their last 13 international T20 matches, which came against the West Indies in Antigua earlier this year.
They were drubbed 0-3 by England last month but Murali still believes that Sri Lanka is more suited to the T20 format as compared to the 50-over game.
‘’They will be a little more comfortable in T20Is than ODIs batsman has a chance to get a 20-ball 30 or 40 and that’s good enough. But in a One-day game, 30s, 40s don’t win you matches. So, they are more suitable for T20Is than ODIs,’’ he said.
The first T20I of the three-match series between hosts Sri Lanka and Team India will take place in Colombo on July 25th.