India vs Sri Lanka 1st T20I beginning on January 5 (Sunday) will be broadcast on the Star Sports Network and live streaming will be available on Hotstar. The match will be played in Guwahati and will begin at 19:00 HRS IST. You can also follow all the action on our live blog (IND vs SL).
Preview: There was a time not too long ago when India and Sri Lanka used to play so often that even fans from both countries became frustrated. The idea of another India-Sri Lanka series would often be received with fans’ dissent, and even jokes about the frequency.
However, the same cannot be said of India-Sri Lanka clashes now. The two sides have met only thrice across formats, including the World Cup last year, since the beginning of 2018. They’re now set to play a short three-match T20I series beginning in Guwahati Sunday (January 5), with both sides eyeing preparations for the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year.
The two sides aren’t too far in the ICC rankings, with India on 5 and Sri Lanka on 7. Both teams are in search of consistency and an ideal combination ahead of the big tournament this year.
India would feel they’re close to idenfiying theirs, although there’s still plenty of work to be done. Their batting order is falling in place, but their approach is still work in progress.
Rohit Sharma’s absence this series gives Shikhar Dhawan a chance to stake claim for the opening spot once again. With Rohit fixed as one opener, it’s a straight fight between KL Rahul and Dhawan. Rahul’s consistent run in this format gives him the edge for now, and only a big performance from Dhawan can change that.
With Kohli forever in the form of his life, the rest of the order is almost sorted. Rishabh Pant needs a big score to silence critics, while Shreyas Iyer has impressed in whatever chances he has got.
India also showed inclination towards experimentation in the previous series when they promoted Shivam Dube to No. 3 in one of the games, and the all-rounder responded with a half-century. Hardik Pandya isn’t too far from an international comeback but a back-up all-rounder is crucial for India’s plans.
India’s issues lie in batting first, and their bowling. India have often struggled to pace their innings while batting first but seem to have found a newfound approach in Mumbai, in the last T20I against West Indies. Rohit, Kohli and Rahul smashed half-centuries, going berserk from the beginning to post 240. It showed India can hit top gear when they want, and it remains to be seen if they stick to the method.
The bowling struggled in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah. West Indies’ batsmen gave India a run for their money, with pacers and spinners struggling. Bumrah’s return is a massive boost for the side which has also lost Deepak Chahar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar to injuries.
Even in pursuit of their best combination, India have managed to win more than lose in T20Is. In their last four series, they’ve defeated West Indies twice, drew with South Africa and beat Bangladesh.
Sri Lanka have been up and down in T20Is. They swept Pakistan 3-0 in their own den with a second-string side, but lost to Australia in the same scoreline down under.
Sri Lanka have a fairly young squad with the likes of Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Danushka Gunathilaka and Oshada Fernando, the heroes of their win in Pakistan. They also some experience. Led by Lasith Malinga, they’ve got back Angelo Mathews for the series. The all-rounder hasn’t played in the format since August 2018 owing to multiple injuries, but Sri Lanka have shown faith in him at the very beginning of the World Cup year.
It’s been 11 series, across formats, since Sri Lanka beat India. The hosts are the favourites this time too, and Sri Lanka have to raise their games to change that record.
India: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Shivam Dube, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur, Manish Pandey, Washington Sundar, Sanju Samson.
Sri Lanka: Lasith Malinga (c), Danushka Gunathilaka, Avishka Fernando, Angelo Mathews, Dasun Shanaka, Kusal Janith Perera, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Dhananjaya De Silva, Isuru Udana, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Oshada Fernando, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lahiru Kumara, Kusal Mendis, Lakshan Sandakan