Can punch-drunk Sri Lanka find some festive cheer?


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Sri Lanka keep offering gifts this festive season, and India keep lapping it up. Their bowlers regularly send down half-volleys and half-trackers, wrapped up in ribbons. Their batting line-up continues to suffer rapid collapses. And their fielders keep missing chances. The only gift Sri Lanka have received in return was a spring-loaded boxing glove from an under-strength Indian side. Can Thisara Perera and his men leave end the tour with something to cheer?

To do that they need to first figure out the right combination, and Angelo Mathews’ getting injured can’t have helped. In the first T20I, they went for four batsmen, three seam-bowling allrounders and four bowlers, and suffered their worst loss in the format. In the second match, they brought in an extra batsman in Sadeera Samarawickrama for a frontline seamer in Vishwa Fernando, but they still lost 9 for 27 in 25 balls.

With the series in the bag, India might consider giving a T20I debut to Tamil Nadu allrounder Washington Sundar or Baroda allrounder Deepak Hooda. This could also be a chance for the other IPL candidates to enhance their reputation ahead of the mega auction in January next year.

Form guide

India WWWLW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka LLLLL

In the spotlight

A year ago Thisara Perera‘s place in Sri Lanka’s A team was in question. Now he is captain of the senior team in limited-overs cricket. On this tour, he hasn’t passed 6 in four innings with the bat and has an economy rate of nearly nine after 25.2 overs.

The force has been with wristspin in limited-overs cricket in recent times. Even when Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav were repeatedly swatted away to the short boundaries in Indore, they hit back by tossing the ball short and wide – often wider than a set of stumps – to deceive Sri Lanka’s batsmen. More of the same can be expected at Wankhede Stadium.

Team news

India might consider replacing one of the wristspinners with Sundar or Hooda. Kerala quick Basil Thampi is also in line for his T20I debut, possibly in place of Jaydev Unadkat

India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 KL Rahul, 3 Shreyas Iyer, 4 Dinesh Karthik, 5 Manish Pandey, 6 MS Dhoni (wk), 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Kuldeep Yadav/Washington Sundar, 9 Jaydev Unadkat/Basil Thampi, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal.

With Mathews sidelined for two weeks, Sri Lanka might recall Dasun Shanaka or Fernando.

Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Upul Tharanga, 2 Niroshan Dickwella(wk), 3 Kusal Perera, 4 Sadeera Samarawickrama, 5 Thisara Perera, 6 Asela Gunaratne, 7 Dasun Shanaka/Vishwa Fernando, 8 Akila Dananjaya, 9 Chaturanga de Silva/Sachith Pathirana 10 Dushmantha Chameera 11 Nuwan Pradeep

Pitch and conditions

The Wankhede’s flat pitch and the quick outfield is the fantasy of every batsman. The teams will have to be wary of dew in the second innings. The weather is expected to be fine for the duration of the match.

Stats and trivia

  • Sri Lanka have lost 22 out of 30 T20Is in the last two years. In comparison, India have won 23 out of 33 T20Is in the last two years.

  • MS Dhoni batted at No. 3 on Friday for only the 13th time in 245 T20 innings. In all, he has scored 323 runs at the position, at an average of 29.36 and strike-rate of 128.17.

Quotes

“India are bowling really well and generally the wristspinners with their variations are hard to pick.”
Sri Lanka batsman Kusal Perera

“When you travel overseas, the last series does have an impact. The momentum you create, the winning rhythm of the team does give a lot of confidence.”
India captain Rohit Sharma



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