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India vs Sri Lanka 2020: Concerns loom for Virat Kohli as India host unpredictable Sri Lanka

Aryan Surana
ANALYST
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Published 03 Jan 2020, 18:12 IST
03 Jan 2020, 18:12 IST

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli

India negotiated West Indies despite facing stern competition, and wrapped up their phenomenal calendar year with emphatic series victories. Next, India lock horns with familiar enemies Sri Lanka in the first T20I at Guwahati on Sunday.

The evenly-contested limited-overs rubber against Windies helped India resolve their batting muddle, with youngsters Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer and Shivam Dube delivering noteworthy performances. While Dubey showcased his marvelous range-hitting abilities, Pant channeled his instinctive belligerence after enduring numerous failures.

Traditionally, in the shorter formats, India have always believed in pacing the innings rather than unleashing carnage straightaway. However, the game's evolving dynamics have forced them to shed their conservatism and bat more positively.

The newfangled game-plan was evident in the T20I series decider at Wankhede where India launched a no-holds-barred assault, drubbing Kieron Pollard's men into submission.

Openers KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma have complemented each other wonderfully and provided excellent starts in Shikhar Dhawan's absence. Rahul's pyrotechnics in particular have left everyone gasping for breath, intensifying question marks over Dhawan's viability in slam-bang cricket.

Now, since Rohit has been justifiably afforded rest, Dhawan has a golden chance to rubber-stamp his white-ball credentials.

Shikhar Dhawan
Shikhar Dhawan

Though India's batting frontiers look sorted, their bowling issues remain. Impressive only in patches, the Indian seamers have failed at executing yorkers or cutters at the death.

Hostile quick Navdeep Saini has exhibited glimpses of brilliance, flummoxing prominent batsmen with raw speed and well-directed bouncers, but his death bowling skills need urgent improvement.

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Following an extensive rehabilitation program, Jasprit Bumrah marks his international comeback. The experienced campaigner's return definitely bolsters India's pace resources.

Given the featherbed surface at the Barsapara Stadium in Guwahati, India might feature only two specialist quicks alongside three frontline spinners. India's reluctance to play both Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav together means that Washington Sundar and Ravindra Jadeja start as favorites courtesy their willow-wielding prowess.

India
India's catching woes remain

Lackluster groundwork would be giving Kohli another headache, as India shelled 18 potential chances during the West Indies assignment. Considering the unforgiving nature of Twenty20 cricket, the importance of grasping opportunities becomes paramount.

As for the visiting Sri Lankans, inconsistency is their Achilles heel. The emerald islanders often produce sensational cricket before committing hara-kiri.

In recent T20Is, Sri Lanka lost in demoralizing fashion to Australia after inflicting a comprehensive 3-0 whitewash over Pakistan. Nevertheless, the revamped squad oozes talent and can punch above their weight.

India relish challenges, and the Sri Lankans might just give them one.

What: India vs Sri Lanka, 1st T20I, 5 January at 7:00 PM local time

Where: Barsapara Cricket Stadium, Guwahati

What to expect:  The sun-baked center wicket promises an entertaining, high-scoring run-fest. Passing evening showers have been forecast, so that could influence decisions at the toss.

Probable XIs

India: Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Shivam Dube, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar. Shardul Thakur / Navdeep Saini, Jasprit Bumrah.

Sri Lanka: Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, Avishka Fernando, Oshada Fernando, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Angelo Mathews, Danushka Gunathilaka, Lasith Malinga (c), Lahiru Kumara, Lakshan Sandakan.

What they said:

"We have set high fielding standards with our young team. We'll make sure we concentrate on our catching in the next series. I think it's quite crucial. Especially in limited-overs, if you drop catches of key batsmen, it can cost you the game. So we'll focus harder so that we don't drop catches next time around" highlighted Jadeja on India's catching woes.

Modified 03 Jan 2020, 18:12 IST
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