R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo
Wednesday, September 6; 19:00 local and IST
Sony Ten 3 and Ten 3 HD (Hindi); Sony Six and Six HD (English)
The main picture
Feckless, gulf in class and sympathy are some of the terms we have had to use to describe this Sri Lankan side, who have suffered at the hands of India from day one of this tour. One of the primary problems for the Islanders has been their inability to play well for long periods. So, either when they have been in good positions or had India in deep trouble, the hosts have not made their dominance count. Also, they have felt the strength and depth in this Virat Kohli-led Indian side, who have played with intensity, been ruthless and epitomised a hunger to win.
After being whitewashed in the Test series, we anticipated a Sri Lankan fightback in the ODIs and now, having been whitewashed 0-5 in the ODI series too, the question is what can we expect from the Sri Lankan T20 side?
Well, logically speaking, the shortest format presents Sri Lanka their best chance of beating India and salvaging some of the lost pride. In essence, their batsmen don’t need to occupy the crease “for long periods” and can play positively regardless of the match situation. For example, Upul Tharanga’s 48 runs off 34 balls with a strike rate of 141.17 will be more pertinent in the T20 format and will benefit his team a whole lot more. Another reason to be upbeat, from a Sri Lankan fan’s perspective, is a bowler like Akila Dananjaya can have a greater impact in this format than he had in the ODIs. In the grand scheme of things, a one-off victory in this the only Twenty20 International might not do much good to either of these sides. But given the punishment they have suffered, the hosts will at least want to end this chapter with a win.
India themselves were hammered by Evin Lewis and the West Indies in the one-off T20I in July, and they suffered a nine-wicket loss. It’s a reminder of what can happen in this format, though we will have to wait and see if the Sri Lankans are capable of replicating that level of batting performance.
India are likely to make changes to their team composition but should remain formidable opponents for Sri Lanka. Though this T20I carries very little significance for the Indian team, players like Lokesh Rahul might be given another opportunity to perform and keep themselves in the selection picture for the limited-overs series that follow one after another after India return home.
Last five Twenty20 Internationals
India vs Sri Lanka head to head in T20
These two Asian giants have played 10 Twenty20 Internationals against each other till date and India lead the head-to-head record by 6-4. The 2007 World T20 champions have won each of the last three meetings. India-Sri Lanka T20 matches have tended to be one-sided.
The R Premadasa Stadium has hosted just one T20I between India and Sri Lanka before and back in 2009, MS Dhoni’s men clinched a thriller thanks largely to the heroics of the Pathan brothers (Yusuf and Irfan).
Team news and playing XI
Sri Lanka have a much-changed T20 squad for the one-off match against India, with Jeffrey Vandersay, Dasun Shanaka, Suranga Lakmal, Isuru Udana, Seekkuge Prasanna, and Vikum Sanjaya being the new additions. Vishwa Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Dushmantha Chameera, Lakshan Sandakan, and Chamara Kapugedera are those who have been left out. Remember, Upul Tharanga is Lanka’s T20 captain and this will be his first T20I as captain.
September 5 update: All-rounder Ashan Priyanjan has been brought in as cover for Milinda Siriwardana, who has complained of a tightness in back and hamstring and his availability for tomorrow’s fixture hangs in the balance.
The playing XI for the hosts is likely to be a lot different from what we saw last Sunday. All-rounders are integral to success in T20 cricket and so, I expect Thisara Perera to play, along with the likes of Dasun Shanaka, Seekkuge Prasanna and Suranga Lakmal.
The probable Sri Lanka playing 11: 1 Upul Tharanga (C), 2 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 3 Dilshan Munaweera, 4 Angelo Mathews, 5 Milinda Siriwardana/Wanindu Hasaranga, 6 Seekkuge Prasanna, 7 Thisara Perera, 8 Suranga Lakmal, 9 Lasith Malinga, 10 Vikum Sanjaya/Dasun Shanaka, and 11 Akila Dananjaya
For India, Lokesh Rahul might well be reinstated in the line-up, while captain Kohli, as he has done since the start of this year, moves up a position and opens the batting with Rohit Sharma. Hardik Pandya is another player who might be restored to the line-up after being afforded a rest on Sunday.
India playing XI for T20 vs Sri Lanka: 1 Virat Kohli (C), 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Lokesh Rahul, 4 Manish Pandey, 5 Kedar Jadhav, 6 MS Dhoni (WK), 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Axar Patel/Kuldeep Yadav, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, and 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
Sri Lanka can be expected to compete with India in this one-off T20I. The fact that they will have a handful of new faces in the XI will help them be competitive and potentially beat India on the final lap of this tour. India remain the stronger side, but in T20 cricket, more than in any other format, you don’t really have favourites and underdogs.