In 2021, Sri Lanka has recorded 17 losses in 25 games they have contested across all formats, and have won only four.
Sri Lanka’s performance graph in the series has been on an upward trend. They were rolled over in the first ODI, as India chased 263 with seven wickets intact and 80 balls to spare. In the second, they made India fight to get to 276, kept them on their toes, and had it not been for the one magical Deepak Chahar knock, the hosts would have levelled the series instead of losing by three wickets.
In some desperate need of ODI Super League points and the urgency to avoid a clean-sweep against arguably a second-string Indian team – or call it perhaps fourth-string after the sea of changes India made in the final game – they pulled one back to seal the score-line at 2-1. With winning momentum behind their back and gradual improvement as their tonic of motivation, Sri Lanka would now enter into the shorter format, with their chins slightly up.
To say the year 2021 has been sorry for Sri Lanka would be putting it mildly. Their build-up to even this series includes the pulling out of Angelo Mathews, three crucial players in Kusal Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella and Danushka Gunathilaka missing due to inquiry pending over a severe bio-bubble breach in England on the team’s last trip, a couple of Covid-19 cases in the camp right before the start of the series and the last moment injury to Kusal Perera that left the hosts further toned down. Such is the state that experienced campaigners in the team might as well be counted on fingertips.
In 2021, Sri Lanka has recorded 17 losses in 25 games they have contested across all formats, and have won only four. In the format they are now coming to play against India, their form infuses little to no promise: since the start of 2019, Sri Lanka has lost 17 fixtures to the five they have won. (Why 2019? Because reduce that filter to the start of 2020, and it gives only sadder results: a solitary win in 9 completed T20Is)
In stark contrast is India who have won 19 of their 31 completed T20Is since 2019. India is the second-ranked T20I team, while Sri Lanka is 10th. India looks like one fine contender to lift the ICC T20 World Cup, while Sri Lanka is yet to even qualify for the Super12. On paper, the upcoming series might as well be called a mismatch, then. And even on recent evidence – India defeated England at home 3-2; Sri Lanka lost 0-3 to England away – the series might seem a foregone conclusion.
But this is not that India. Most of the members who helped the team rack up the numbers abovementioned are in England currently, preparing for a format antonymous to T20s. However, thanks to the scary depth and despite the absence of those, the visitors looks like a team with all its bases covered.
Barring these three encounters, India does not play another international T20I before the multi-team global event due in the UAE in October-November. Even as the players have half an IPL to prepare themselves, they would not want to squander their last international opportunity. As for Sri Lanka, even if they can’t be entirely ruled, they will have to be miraculously good against the young Indian blood to hold a chance.
Pitch and conditions
Despite rain being forecast on each of the three games in the series, it rained only once. Although when it did, it rained enough to tinker the length of the game, as the final ODI was reduced to 47 overs per side. Showers are expected again on Sunday in Colombo, which means the pacers might enjoy a tad bit more than you would expect in a spin paradise like Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, statistically, it is hard to answer the ‘whether to chase or defend’ question at this venue in this format, with teams defending winning 17 to the 18 won by chasers in 35 T20Is.
Playing combination for SL vs IND
The top-scorer of the ODI series, Avishka Fernando will be at the top alongside Minod Bhanuka. Binura Fernando, who missed the ODIs, is available, while Kasun Rajitha stands ruled out due to injury. Wanindu Hasaranga missed the final ODI due to a torn muscle. If fit, he will walk back inside straight. After a three-wicket haul in the previous fixture, Sri Lanka might give Akila Dananjaya an extended run.
Predicted XI: Avishka Fernando, Minod Bhanuka (WK), Bhanuka Rajapaksha, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Wanindu Hasaranga/Isuru Udana, Dasun Shanaka (C), Chamika Karunaratne, Lakshan Sandakan, Dushmantha Chameera, Akila Dananjaya
India made a record six changes in their eleven on Friday, and Rahul Chahar was arguably most impressive amongst those. Given that, he has a case for inclusion in the upcoming series at some point in time, even if not the series-opener. Varun Chakravarthy is nearly certain to make his debut.
Predicted XI: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan (C), Ishan Kishan (WK), Suryakumar Yadav, Sanju Samson, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Deepak Chahar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav/Varun Chakravarthy/Rahul Chahar
SL vs IND Head-to-Head
Played – 19 | Sri Lanka – 5 | India – 13 | N/R – 1 | Tied- 0
In Sri Lanka
Played – 5 | Sri Lanka – 1 | India – 4 | N/R – 0 | Tie-0
Hardik Pandya and Bhuvneshwar Kumar need nine and five wickets respectively to complete 50 scalps in T20Is.
Dushmantha Chameera needs seven wickets to complete 100 scalps in international cricket.
Match – Sri Lanka vs India 1st T20I
Venue – R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo
Time – 08:00 PM IST
Telecast – Sony Sports Network, Sony LIV