Trying to get your novel published. Receiving venture capital funding for your business. Getting some sleep after recently becoming a parent. Even getting Steven Smith out. Tough? Try providing context to this series. That too, India have rested some of their stars, with the main focus on the series against South Africa next month, giving the IPL’s best performers a chance to earn a regular place in the T20 squad.
But there was still much of the same in Cuttack: India extending their home dominance with their biggest T20 win, and wristspin’s rapidly-improving bid to take over the world. Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav combined for figures of 8-0-41-6 to skittle Sri Lanka’s batsmen out, again. India’s top five, including MS Dhoni at No. 4, struck brisk cameos in dewy conditions.
Sri Lanka’s T20 record (5-8) in 2017 hasn’t been woeful, but it was hard to tell from their performance in Cuttack. On paper the elements for success are abundantly available to them, but they will have to find a way to cope with challenges rather than spontaneously combust.
India WWLWL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka LLLLL
In the spotlight
Over the last few years, batting, batsmen and bats have dominated the way cricket has been played. The slower bouncer and the wide yorker briefly tried to break the rhythm. Then came the resurrection of wristspin, especially through its relevance in T20s, pulling the balance back slightly. Kuldeep and Chahal, two practitioners of this skill, have been attacked, but they have found ways to combat it efficiently. Will it continue?
After their 2015 World Cup debacle, England’s management and players agreed that they’d wipe the slate clean and try a new approach: all-out attack. It didn’t alter their results in the short term, but they’re now a powerhouse team in limited-overs cricket. It wouldn’t be a bad plan for Sri Lanka to adopt a similar style, and allow their batsmen the freedom to go for it again, even if they are 87 all out again.
Will India wait to win another home series before giving all the members in the squad a chance? Pacer Basil Thampi and the big-hitting Deepak Hooda are likely to be given a chance either way, in this game or the third T20.
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, 9 Basil Thampi, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal.
Sri Lanka could make a few changes too, but for different reasons. With Angelo Mathews and Dasun Shanaka available to bowl, they may choose an extra batsman in place of either of their seamers.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 2 Upul Tharanga, 3 Kusal Perera, 4 Angelo Mathews, 5 Sadeera Samarawickrama, 6 Asela Gunaratne, 7 Dasun Shanaka, 8 Thisara Perera (capt), 9 Akila Dananjaya, 10 Dushmantha Chameera, 11 Nuwan Pradeep.
Pitch and conditions
The surface at the Holkar Stadium is usually a batsman’s dream. With short boundaries and the possibility of dew, there should be plenty of boundaries again. The forecast says there is no chance of rain.
Stats and trivia
- MS Dhoni has scored 244 runs in 11 innings at No. 4 in T20Is, with an average of 61 and a strike rate of 151.55 – his best average and strike-rate in any batting position in T20Is by a significant margin
- India have won 35 matches across formats in 2017, behind only Australia’s 38 and 35 wins in 2003 and 1999 respectively
- On the other hand, Sri Lanka have lost 38 of 55 games across formats this year, the most by any team in a calendar year
Nikhil Kalro is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.