After a successful tour of South Africa, team India's next assignment is a tri-series involving hosts Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh as the third team. The Nidahas Trophy has been arranged to celebrate the 70th year of independence of Sri Lanka. Each team will play each other twice and the top two teams will play in the finals. All the matches in the Nidahas Trophy will be played at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.
The tournament will commence from 6th March, 2018 with the finals being played on 18th March, 2018. Team India has rested as many as 6 regular players who represent India in the T20 format. The likes of Virat Kohli, M.S. Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Kuldeep Yadav have been rested for the series considering their workload throughout the last season.
The series will see Rohit Sharma leading the side. The series will also provide a perfect platform for many young cricketers who have played consistent cricket in the domestic circuit to represent India at the international level and to justify their selection.
The Indian squad for the Nidahas trophy is as follows:
Rohit Sharma (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, K.L. Rahul, Suresh Raina, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Deepak Hooda, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Vijay Shankar, Shardul Thakur, Jaydev Unadkat, Mohammed Siraj and Rishabh Pant.
Here is a look at the SWOT analysis of the Indian squad:
Top Order Batting:
The main strength of the Indian squad is the top order batting. The opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan are at present the most consistent and dependable pair in the world as far as limited overs cricket. They have opened the batting for India in limited overs cricket for almost 5 years now and they are known to get India off to flying starts in the power play.
With Virat Kohli being rested for the series, Suresh Raina will be looking to make the number 3 position in the batting order his own. Raina made a comeback to the Indian T20 squad in the series against South Africa and made 89 runs in the 3 match series, picked up a wicket and was named as Man of the match in the Cape Town. Raina is a valuable asset for team India in the T20 format and will look to cement his place in the limited-overs setup by scoring runs in the Nidahas trophy. A good showing in the series would also help Suresh Raina make a case for the much-debated number 4 slot in the ODI team.
Manish Pandey averaged 121 in the recently concluded T20 series against South Africa and will be the number 4 batsman for India in the Nidahas trophy. Pandey proved his worth in the T20 format by playing the role of the aggressor against South Africa and will look to continue his fine touch with the bat.
Though Kuldeep Yadav is not a part of the Indian squad, the likes of Chahal and Axar Patel can be a formidable force in T20 cricket. Chahal, in the T 20 format has not been afraid to flight the ball which allows him to pick up wickets at regular intervals. Axar can bowl the nagging line which can keep the runs down and also frustrate the batsmen which in turn leads to a wicket.
The Indian team is sorted as far as spin is concerned for the Nidahas trophy with the young Washington Sundar being the third spinner in the squad.
The only weakness in the Indian squad for the Nidahas trophy is the lack of depth in middle order. T20 cricket requires a player to bat aggressively towards the end of an innings. It will be interesting to see as to which player the Indian team will identify as the batsman who can be the game changer in the series and can play the role of a finisher.
With the likes of M.S. Dhoni and Hardik Pandya being rested, the onus will be on all-rounders like Deepak Hooda and Vijay Shankar to provide the finishing touches to the innings. Hooda and Shankar both are yet to make their debut at the international level. Hence it will not be easy for them to immediately play the role of a finisher in international cricket.
It will be interesting to see if the management decides to rope in Pant for the role of a finisher as he is an aggressive batsman and with no vacancy in the top order, Pant might just be the perfect batsman to fit into the role of a finisher for India in the Nidahas trophy.
With two front-line seamers in Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah being rested, the series will provide an ideal platform for Shardul Thakur and Jaydev Unadkat to establish themselves as the new ball opening pair for team India. India are yet to identify their third pacer for the 2019 World Cup too and a good performance in the Nidahas Trophy may open the doors for Thakur and/or Unadkat in the ODI team too. Though both Thakur and Unadkat have played just 5 and 14 international matches respectively, they have performed consistently in the domestic circuit for many seasons and will relish the opportunity to bowl with the new ball in Sri Lanka.
The series will also provide a platform for all rounders like Hooda and Shankar to prove their worth at the international level and whether they can challenge Hardik Pandya with their consistent performances.
The series will also be a crucial one for Rishabh Pant as India will need to identify the successor for MS Dhoni in the T20 format. India will look to groom a young keeper and Pant seems to be the ideal replacement.
The likes of Washington Sundar and Mohammed Siraj will look to impress the selectors if and when they get an opportunity to play in the series.
It will also be interesting to see the role of KL Rahul and Dinesh Karthik in the series as a good series for either/both of them will give the selectors a good headache in choosing the number 4 position for the 50-over format.
It is always exciting to see some new faces representing India. The Nidahas trophy too will see the likes of Deepak Hooda, Vijay Shankar, Rishabh Pant, Washington Sundar, Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur playing for India in the tournament. As the youngsters are relatively inexperienced at the international level, there are chances that they may not provide team India with the desired results in the first go. The team management should not look to judge the young cricketers on the basis of one or two bad performances and should look to give them a consistent run at least in the T20 format before making rapid changes in the team.
Overall the Indian squad is an exciting one with a combination of youth and experience. India have tasted success against Sri Lanka in recent times and the young squad will look to replicate the success in the Nidahas trophy too.