In an ODI World Cup year, a bilateral T20I series may have the same appeal for fans as a New Year party has for an introvert. It just feels like something you can do without.
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.
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.
India TWLWW (last five completed T20Is, most recent first)
Sri Lanka LWLLW
In the spotlight
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, 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.
“They are a very exciting team, you can see a lot of emotion is also there because obviously what happened in the past in the country and that gave them more motivation to go out there and be in a zone that they’re ready to do anything and everything possible. And they play like a group, like brothers, so Sri Lanka is a very good team and we will hope that we have a clash which entertains everyone.”
India captain Hardik Pandya
“In T20s it’s the day [that matters], so it depends on the day. The underdog can come up and do well. We have the confidence with us that we can beat [India] on our day, we need to maintain the standards, the quality of cricket we play.”
Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka
Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo