Match Preview – India vs Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka in India 2022/23, 1st T20I

Big picture

In an ODI World Cup year, a bilateral T20I series may have the same appeal for fans as a New Year party does for an introvert. It just feels like something you can do without.

India and Sri Lanka, though, will be looking at the bigger picture. Having reflected on what went wrong at the 2022 T20 World Cup, it’s time to start afresh. While India played a T20I series in New Zealand immediately after the global event, this will be Sri Lanka’s first T20I in this cycle.

It’s a new-look Indian side, with none of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, R Ashwin, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah part of the squad for different reasons. That gives them as clean a slate as possible to pen down their T20I philosophy, especially with the bat.

With ball, Arshdeep Singh, who made his international debut less than six months ago, will lead the pace attack, which comprises Umran Malik, Shivam Mavi, Mukesh Kumar, Hardik Pandya and Harshal Patel.

Sri Lanka may not have played a T20I since the World Cup but they had the Lanka Premier League last month. Even though it was a relatively low-scoring tournament, the players will be primed for the challenge.

It’s difficult to say which team starts as the favourites. India have the home advantage but Sri Lanka, under Dasun Shanaka, have a more settled playing XI, and not to forget their Asia Cup win last year.

Form guide

India TWLWW (last five completed T20Is, most recent first)
Sri Lanka LWLLW

In the spotlight

Last year, when India’s first-choice openers were unavailable, Ruturaj Gaikwad opened the innings with Ishan Kishan during the five-match T20I series against South Africa in June. While Kishan, thanks to his blazing double-hundred against Bangladesh in the third ODI, seems to have the team management’s trust for now, this could be an important series for Gaikwad. If India are looking to change their batting template, he must up his game, for his first-ten-ball strike rate in all T20s since the start of 2021, where ESPNcricinfo has the ball-by-ball data, is only 98.33. Having said that, the corresponding figure for Kishan in the same period isn’t too pleasing either: 111.26.

In 2022, only Rashid Khan (81) picked up more T20 wickets than Wanindu Hasaranga (73). The Sri Lankan may not have Rashid’s pace but he possesses a well-disguised googly, and can bowl at a lower trajectory, thus making it difficult for batters to get under the ball and execute big hits. In seven T20Is against India, he has 10 wickets at an economy of 6.79. Once again, he will be Sri Lanka’s trump card, even without taking into account his lower-order hitting.

Team news

If India reunite Kishan and Gaikwad at the top, Shubman Gill will have to wait further for his T20I debut. Meanwhile, Yuzvendra Chahal, who warmed the bench throughout the 2022 T20 World Cup, could be back in the XI. However, he will face stiff competition from Axar Patel, especially if India go for batting depth.

India (probable): 1 Ishan Kishan (wk), 2 Ruturaj Gaikwad, 3 Suryakumar Yadav, 4 Sanju Samson (wk), 5 Hardik Pandya (capt), 6 Deepak Hooda, 7 Washington Sundar, 8 Harshal Patel, 9 Arshdeep Singh, 10 Umran Malik, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal

Sri Lanka may not make too many changes to their last playing XI, which faced England at the T20 World Cup. If anything, Dilshan Madushanka could replace Kasun Rajitha.

Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Pathum Nissanka, 2 Kusal Mendis (wk), 3 Dhananjaya de Silva, 4 Charith Asalanka, 5 Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 6 Dasun Shanaka (capt), 7 Wanindu Hasaranga, 8 Chamika Karunaratne, 9 Maheesh Theekshana, 10 Dilshan Madushanka, 11 Lahiru Kumara

Pitch and conditions

Because of its smaller boundaries, the Wankhede has always been a high-scoring venue, and has favoured chasing teams, who have won 24 of the 41 T20s played here in the last two years. Expect more of the same on Tuesday as well. It should be a pleasant evening with clear skies and the temperature hovering around 20°C.

Stats and trivia

  • Since the start of 2021, India have a head-to-head record of 4-3 against Sri Lanka in T20Is.
  • Chahal needs four wickets to become the highest wicket-taker for India in the format. Currently, Bhuvneshwar is at the top with 90 scalps.
  • This will be Kusal Mendis’ 50th T20I, making him the 13th Sri Lankan to the milestone.

Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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