India made as many as six changes to the team for the final ODI, handing out debuts to five players. The visitors struggled with the bat and ended up losing the match by three wickets.
Speaking on his YouTube channel, Chopra stated that Team India, perhaps, took the dead rubber a little too lightly. He said:
“When you make six changes to your team, complacency is the mindset. It seemed Team India took Sri Lanka a bit lightly in the third ODI, having already won the series. Although the match was important for the debutants, collectively the group seemed to believe that ‘we will win the game easily as Sri Lanka are a weak side.’ But there is a lesson for Team India in the defeat - do not take any opponent lightly.”
India started well after winning the toss and opting to bat first but completely lost their way after the rain break. They were all-out for 225 in 43.1 overs as Akila Dananjaya and Praveen Jayawickrama picked up three wickets apiece for the hosts. Sri Lanka got home in the rain-curtailed encounter by three wickets courtesy half-centuries from Avishka Fernando (76) and Bhanuka Rajapaksa (65).
According to Chopra, India’s tactics for the final ODI lacked planning, the result of which saw Nitish Rana bat at No. 7 on debut. The former Test opener explained:
“India made six changes, included five debutants and changed the entire bowling line-up. Not a single bowler from the previous game played in the third ODI. Also in the batting, India gave a chance to Nitish Rana but he batted at No. 7 on debut. Here is a player who has batted in the Top 3 all his life - whether IPL, Delhi or List A cricket.”
Deepak Chahar has only played a handful of ODIs for Team India, why rest him: Aakash Chopra
Chopra added that ‘resting’ bowlers like Kuldeep Yadav and Deepak Chahar made little sense. He pointed out that Yadav is trying to work his way back into the Indian team while Deepak Chahar has only played a few matches in international cricket. Chopra questioned:
“What was the bowlers’ fault? Kuldeep Yadav is not going to play in the T20Is, so why wasn’t he retained? Navdeep Saini and Chetan Sakariya got a chance but there was no logic behind resting Deepak Chahar. It is not that he had played a lot of ODIs. One can understand when you rest a player who has played a lot of matches like Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah or Mohammed Shami. But Chahar has only just started playing for India.”
“Chahar must be wondering why he was ‘rested’. He was the man of the match in the previous game. So he deserved another opportunity. The pacer was another big positive for Team India. He picked up two wickets each in the first two games and that too with the old ball. He also scored an unbeaten 69, which almost single-handedly won Team India the second match. Unless he was unfit, he should have played,” he added.
India and Sri Lanka will now battle it out in the three-match T20I series, which starts on Sunday, July 25 in Colombo.