“Given home advantage, growing confidence under coach Chandika Hathuruasingha, and the fact that India are not at full-strength, I think Sri Lanka can be fairly labelled as the favourites. But I would definitely not write off India who are blessed with strength in depth these days,” wrote Jayawardene.
“It’s been an encouraging start to the year for this young Sri Lanka team under the stewardship of new coach Chandika Hathurasingha. We definitely had a year to forget in 2017 but there were some positive signs during the recent tour to Bangladesh, where the team completed an unexpected clean-sweep. This upturn in form and confidence makes the upcoming Nidahas Trophy very interesting indeed. It should be very competitive despite India resting some of their core players. The Indian young guns will be desperate to make an impression and Bangladesh will be striving to bounce back after their disappointing Sri Lanka tour.”
Jayawardene expressed his concern over lack of international experience in Sri Lanka's bowling attack. “Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep and Dushmantha Chameera are all inexperienced in this format. It’s going to be a real test of their skills and I am looking forward to seeing how they perform at critical high-pressure moments when it is very tough for the fast bowlers. The absence of Lasith [Malinga], in particular, places extra pressure on the fast bowlers,” he wrote.
The Indian team has rested key players, and in the absence of skipper Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma will lead the team. Young players like Washington Sundar, Rishabh Pant, Deepak Hooda and Vijay Shankar have made it to the team. The Sri Lanka star backed this decision, as IPL and England tour are not very far away.
“It will be interesting to see what combination India go with today given the absence of most of their T20 stalwarts. The selectors will be excited about an opportunity to see some youngsters perform. Given a tough touring schedule and the IPL fast approaching, the decision to manage the workloads of some of their biggest stars is certainly understandable.”
“I would expect Sri Lanka to have requested good batting pitches, but with the current heat in Colombo, plus the fact that all matches are to be played at the Premadasa International Stadium, I think we will see the batsmen being challenged a little more than would be the case on typical sub-continental pitches. It should be a good balance between bat and ball.”
India Squad: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan (vice-captain), KL Rahul, Suresh Raina, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik (wicket-keeper), Deepak Hooda, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Vijay Shankar, Shardul Thakur, Jaydev Unadkat, Mohammad Siraj and Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper).
Sri Lanka Squad: Dinesh Chandimal (Captain), Suranga Lakmal (vice-captain), Upul Tharanga, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Dasun Shanaka, Kusal Janith Perera, Thisara Perera, Jeevan Mendis, Isuru Udana, Akila Dananjaya, Amila Aponso, Nuwan Pradeep, Dushmantha Chameera, Dhananjaya De Silva.
First Published: March 6, 2018, 9:58 AM IST