After winning yet another series against the Sri Lankans, the Men in Blue are all set to fight it out in the T20I series with the opening T20I slated to be played at Barabati Stadium in Cuttack. For the first time on tour, Sri Lanka has a realistic chance of winning the series, but despite this fact, the hosts will start as favourites to seal yet another series.
The selectors have given a maiden break to fast bowler Basil Thampi who was impressive for the Gujarat Lions during this year’s IPL. Jaydev Undakta too made a comeback while Mohammad Siraj despite a disappointing debut retains his place in the T20 team. Thampi might not be included in the Playing XI
The Sri Lankans, on the other hand, have some exceptional talent in their ranks especially in the shortest format but they lack the consistency which has been their drawback in the recent past. The likes of Asela Gunaratne and Niroshan Dickwella have shown that they are capable of decimating star-studded bowling attacks.
The bowling department also has some exceptional talents in their ranks. Suranga Lakmal was the pick of the Lankan bowlers during the Test and the ODI series but was smashed all around the park during the 2nd ODI where Rohit Sharma scored yet another sensational double century. They will definitely look to come all guns blazing and take some positives from this tour after losing the Test and the ODI series
There is likely to be a tiff up between Mohammad Siraj and Jaydev Unadkat and in the end, it might be the left-arm seamer who bowled brilliantly during the IPL makes a comeback. The rest of the team is expected to remain the same from the ODI team that played the final match. The likes of Shreyas Iyer has cemented his place after an impressive performance in the ODI series. This is also a big chance for KL Rahul to make a statement after he was dropped from the ODI series.
Predicted XI: Rohit Sharma (C), KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik, Manish Pandey, MS Dhoni (WK), Hardik Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Jaydev Unadkat/Mohammed Siraj
Suranga Lakmal who has been the pick of the Lankan bowlers in the tour so far isn’t a part of the T20 squad and we might see Dusmantha Chameera replacing him. The visitors will also look to bring back the big-hitting all-rounder Dasun Shanaka.
Predicted XI: Upul Tharanga, Danushka Gunathilaka, Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella (C), Asela Gunaratne, Dasun Shanaka, Thisara Perera (C), Sachith Pathirana, Akila Dananjaya, Nuwan Pradeep, Vishwa Fernando
Despite Sri Lanka’s impressive performance in the shortest format of the game of late, the Men in Blue are still the favourites to win the opening T20I and take a 1-0 lead in the 3 match series.