An India-Sri Lanka bilateral cricket series had become quite common at some point in the previous decade, with the emerging winners of Men in Blue more often than not. Much of this is due to the quality chasm due to their rapid rise in world rankings which coincided with the Lankans’ steady decline after 2015.
The frequency of bilateral competitions between neighbors, however, has declined over the past three years, with BCCI increasingly focusing on tours to the other ‘big three’ countries of England and Australia.
The T20I three-game series between them in December 2019, won 2-0 by host India, is their only bilateral meeting since early 2018, with the two sides also meeting in the 2018 Asian Cup and the ‘ICC World 2019. Cup along the way. Let us not forget the significant gap in the cricket schedule caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought the cricket schedule to a complete standstill last year.
Despite this, the Indian team which includes Shikhar Dhawan as captain and Rahul Dravid as coach should have no problem adjusting to conditions largely similar to those they would face at home. Drawing up plans for the opposition shouldn’t be a problem given that several players from the Sri Lankan side have faced, or in the case of the IPL, played alongside, in the past.
The current tour in Sri Lanka is expected to begin in a few days with the first ODI taking place on July 18, the date being shifted by five days after several cases of COVID-19 were detected in the hosts’ camp after their return. from England. The second and third days take place on July 20 and 23 respectively, followed by the T20I stage of the tour (July 25, 27 and 29).
Here we take a look at some of the home side players who could pose a threat to the Indian team and could play a pivotal role if the hosts are to secure their first series victory against the Indians in nine years:
With goalkeeper-beater Kusal Perera, who was also one of the Sri Lankans’ most reliable batsmen, ruled out of the Indian series due to injury, the responsibility of leading forward fell on Dasun’s shoulders. Shanaka. The all-rounder, who expects the next series to be evenly contested given the Indian squad’s lack of international experience, scored twice the best score for the Lankans while in 7th place during their recent tour of England.
Shanaka started the tour on a high note, scoring 50 points in the first T20I, which was then followed by a lean patch over the next three limited-series matches. However, he has regained his form in the last two matches, scoring 47 points followed by an unbeaten 48, making vital contributions in the second half of the innings. Against the Indians, he’s hoping his average pace on his right arm, which unfortunately hasn’t earned him a single wicket in England, will add to his batting abilities.
Udana could claim to be among the players in the current Sri Lankan squad who are most familiar with the young Indian squad made up of young rookies and senior players who are vying for a place in the T20 World Cup squad.
This is due to the experience of the all-rounder who appeared in 10 Indian Premier League (IPL) games for the Royal Challengers Bangalore under Virat Kohli last year. The experience would give him the advantage of knowing the strengths and weaknesses of some of the uncapped Indians who were selected on the basis of IPL performance including his RCB teammate Devdutt Padikkal as well as leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal. .
The 33-year-old all-rounder, who plays at a medium pace with his left arm and is a practical option with the bat lower in sequence, hasn’t had a runaway performance in recent assignments against Bangladesh and England , but hope to change this against Shikhar Dhawan and Co.
The recent England tour might have been overlooked for the Sri Lankan squad given they didn’t win a single match throughout their month-long stay, and some of them ended by contracting COVID-19 on the way home. There were a few bright spots, however, including point guard Dushmantha Chameera who finished at the top of the wicket-taker list in the T20I series.
The right arm pacemaker collected six wickets with his GPA (11.66) and economy (6.26) suggesting he was not dominated as often by beaters. He also had a strong run in the away mission to Bangladesh, finishing as the first clerk of the one-day series with nine scalps under his belt (avg: 11; save: 3.78), which further suggests that much will depend on him when it comes to the bowling unit if they are to keep the Indian batsmen on the back foot.
Wanindu Hasaranga, a reliable option with both bat and ball for Sri Lanka in white ball formats, finished first wicket taker in the inaugural edition of the Lanka Premier League (LPL) in November-December of the ‘last year. The leg spinner, who floats between 5-7 batting positions in the middle order, collected 17 wickets while registering 121 points at a destructive strike rate of 160.75 for the Jaffna Stallions.
In recent international matches he hasn’t had the best runs in the Bangladesh one-dayers and the T20I stage of the England tour, but has seen a resurgence in one-day form against Eoin Morgan and company as he started the three-game series with a 65-ball 54.
The left-arm spinner kicked off his dream international career when he ended up with a 10-wicket game (6/92 and 5/86) in the second test against Bangladesh at Pallekele, featuring 209 in the series . -run to win.
Even though Jayawickrama hasn’t accomplished much since then, securing all but one of the opportunities on the England tour, the memory of those historic debuts will be fresh on his mind and the added factor of playing against an inexperienced Indian side at home will give him even more confidence and could lead to one or two more remarkable performances, if the team management sees fit to include him among the other spinners on the team.