The Nidahas T20I Tri-Series – involving hosts Sri Lanka, along with India and Bangladesh – is going to be interesting for the Indian team. After all, it is after a long time that team India would be without a majority of their star players in an international series. The selectors have rested captain Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Hardik Pandya and Kuldeep Yadav for this series – all of who have been stars for India in the limited overs format in recent times. It will be intriguing to see how team India does about things without so many of their regular members.
While India, who is ranked No.3 in T20Is, may have fielded their second string unit for this tri-series, it gives a great opportunity for the team management to test their bench strength. All-rounders Deepak Hooda, Vijay Shankar and Washington Sundar, fast bowler Mohammed Siraj, and wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant have all been included in this series. While these players may not have much international exposure, they have done well in the domestic scene and particularly well in the IPL. This series will give us an idea of who among the young Turks have a future for the country and can be seen as a viable option for the ICC World Cup 2019 squad.
Among the new lot, it would be Rishabh Pant who will be in under most focus. He is considered as the next big thing of Indian cricket and with the prolific form he has shown in the domestic arena, he surely deserves chances here. Mohammed Siraj is also an exciting prospect with his ability to bowl fast and accurate produce swinging yorkers at the death.
Another one to watch out would be KL Rahul who returns to the fold after some time. The talented Indian batsman has not got many chances of late as the two Indian openers have been doing really well. But Rahul has shown that he can bat anywhere and in the absence of Kohli, he should get a spot in the middle-order to bolster it. Rahul had smashed 61 and 89 against Sri Lanka in December last year at home in the three-match T20I series and would relish having another go at them.
Stand-in captain Rohit Sharma should be quietly confident even though he is coming off a rather mediocre tour to South Africa. Rohit excels in these conditions and simply loves batting against Sri Lanka. He had slammed that sensational 118 off 43 balls in the T20 series against Sri Lanka in December and has already amassed 278 runs in 11 innings against them at a splendid strike-rate of 146.31.
India begins the tournament by clashing against hosts Sri Lanka and would then go on to play against Bangladesh later. Pitches in Sri Lanka for limited overs cricket tend to be rather flat and favours the batsmen heavily which is good news for the Indian team. With the likes of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Suresh Raina and KL Rahul at the top, and some talented youngsters to follow, India’s batting unit looks pretty robust. The only chink in their armour seems to be their bowling which lacks experience. And that is what would present a big challenge for this new-look Indian team. This format is unpredictable and gives the opportunity for some unknown faces to leave a mark. It will hence be exciting to see if India’s reserve players can leave any distinct impression in the tri-series.
Rohit Sharma had shown a lot of promise as a captain in the one T20I he led the team against South Africa recently. Will he be able to manage this second string Indian unit efficiently? Will we find some future stars of Indian cricket after the end of this tri-series? Interesting times lie ahead.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)