What's the story?
Having completed yet another comprehensive win over hosts Sri Lanka to keep their record clean in the ongoing tour, Team India's captain Virat Kohli hinted at making more changes for the fifth and final ODI at Colombo.
"We have given opportunities to three new guys and definitely they are going to get another opportunity. The batting order and everything can be flexible according to the situation of the game. We will experiment here and there a little bit, once the guys settle into their role in any given situation and given condition", Kohli said in the post-match press-conference.
In case you didn't know...
Riding on the twin tons of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, and helped along further by the middle-order stand between MS Dhoni and Manish Pandey, India completed a fourth successive ODI win over hosts Sri Lanka.
The heart of the matter
After playing with the same side in the first three games, Kohli finally decided to experiment with the combination, bringing in Shardul Thakur, Manish Pandey and Kuldeep Yadav into the side. While Manish Pandey played for the first time since October 2016, Kuldeep Yadav got a chance for the first time since the West Indies series.
Pacer Shardul Thakur debuted for India, ending with one wicket from seven overs. He adorned the No.10 jersey, previously sported by Sachin Tendulkar.
After another mauling in the fourth ODI, the Sri Lanka side will host India for the fifth and final ODI of the series, before the tour shifts to the T20 leg for the one-off game of the shortest format.
Both Kohli, and chairman of selectors MSK Prasad, had hinted at changes throughout the Sri Lanka series, claiming that the right combination was being identified for the World Cup two years away. While the changes did place in the fourth ODI, it was a matter of surprise that Kohli didn't experiment earlier itself in the low-profile series, even after watching the Lankans put up a poor showing in the first two ODIs.
Having promised more changes for the fifth game, one can expect the likes of Manish Pandey and Shardul Thakur to get one more match, with a possible change in batting combination also likely. Experiments like these will help the fringe players get match time and will help the management and selectors identify the strengths and weaknesses of the core team and its possible replacements.