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India vs Sri Lanka 2017: Manish Pandey, Shardul Thakur Look to Make Most of Big Opportunity

Arjit Dabas | Updated: August 20, 2017, 10:32 AM IST
India vs Sri Lanka 2017: Manish Pandey, Shardul Thakur Look to Make Most of Big Opportunity

Manish Pandey. (Getty Images)

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India prepares to take on Sri Lanka for the five-match ODI series which on paper might look like a mismatch and might not generate enough excitement among the fans.

But if one looks at the bigger picture, this series might well be an important one in context of the 2019 World Cup.

The selectors have made it clear that the Indian team is still searching for a core, and more youngsters will be given an opportunity to prove their worth going ahead.

Two such youngsters, who will be looking to make the most of this chance will be middle-order batsman Manish Pandey and fast bowler Shardul Thakur,

Pandey was rather unlucky after an injury ruled him out of the Champions Trophy after being initially named in the squad.

He comes into this squad in place of heavyweight Yuvraj Singh who no doubt will be hurting after his exclusion. The likes of Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant too might feel hard done by with the decision of not being selected for this tour.

But Pandey's form indeed makes him the automatic choice. Recently, he was with the India A team on tour to South Africa, where he scored 307 runs in 5 innings.

He was dismissed just once in five matches in the tournament. He faced 357 balls and was dismissed only once which is a rather incredible feat.

While he batted at number 4 in the series, he is expected to come in the lower middle-order for India, batting at number 5 or 6.

In fact, his past few scores for the senior team have been rather disappointing, with the Karnataka batsman scoring 0,12,28*,19 and 7 in the last 5 matches.

On Saturday, he talked about the fact that he was mentally prepared now to bat lower down the order,

"The game I played in Australia (where he scored a ton), I batted at no.4. That's where I normally bat, and that's where I know how many overs I have to play. That's where I have batted my entire career.

"Batting at no.5 or no.6 was a bit new for me during the New Zealand series, and I think it took me sometime to get used to that situation with only 15-odd overs left in the game. You can't settle in from that position," said Pandey.

"You just need to go out and go at everything from ball one. I think I have adapted to that situation well. Let's see how it goes."

Fast Bowling depth

With India resting key fast bowlers like Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav, it has offered the likes of Shardul Thakur a chance to impress.

Thakur has been impressive in the Ranji Trophy for Mumbai and is among the rich talent which India has managed to cultivate in the past few years in the fast bowling department.

The pacer played a key role in Pune's surprising progress to the IPL final, he had a stupendous strike rate of 20.21 in the tournament.

He was also a part of the India A tri-series in South Africa, and finished as the second highest wicket taker with nine wickets, which included impressive figures of 4/35 and 3/52 in the last couple of games.

If he does manage to make his ODI debut, then Thakur will be the 218th player to represent India in ODI's.
First Published: August 20, 2017, 10:00 AM IST
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