Holkar Stadium, Indore
December 22, Friday; 19:00 IST
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The main picture
India can do little wrong at the moment and, barring a miracle, another series win for the home team seems likely. Even with a much-changed squad, India are comfortably superior to Sri Lanka in terms of the quality of personnel, but the most impressive aspects are they haven’t dropped their intensity and the hunger to keep winning hasn’t dissipated. Those are the consequences of the competition for places in the current Indian team. However, the downside is India are not learning much from this series because of how poor their opponents are and unlike most other aspects, they can do nothing about it.
Sri Lanka, unfortunately, are struggling to compete and even a change in format hasn’t reversed their fortunes. At least nine of the players who played in Cuttack—with the exception of Kusal Perera and Dushmantha Chameera—were Sri Lanka’s first-choice personnel and if they were unable to even help their team compete, we can conclude that the Islanders are unlikely to do much better in the remaining two Twenty20 Internationals. Upul Tharanga has been in good form with the bat right throughout the limited-overs leg, but the greatest problem for Sri Lanka is they aren’t getting collective performances from the batting and bowling departments.
From a neutral’s point of view, you ideally need Sri Lanka batting first in Indore. Yes, they still need to produce a good, collective batting performance to potentially post a competitive total. But to compete against India, the Lankan Lions are better off having their bowling defend a score (even if in the region of 150) than the other way round.
Tomorrow’s second T20I between India and Sri Lanka will be the first-ever to be hosted by the Holkar Stadium in Indore. Usually, the pitch here is good for batting and this is a relatively small ground, meaning a high-scoring match is likely depending on who bats first. The weather forecast says that Friday will be cloudy and the temperature at night will be 12 degree Celsius.
IND: WWLWL (from left to right, last five T20Is)
2nd T20: India vs Sri Lanka playing 11
Given the performance on Wednesday night, India are unlikely to tinker with their playing XI.
Probable Indian playing XI for the second T20I: 1 Rohit Sharma (c), 2 Lokesh Rahul, 3 Shreyas Iyer, 4 Dinesh Karthik, 5 Manish Pandey, 6 MS Dhoni (wk), 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Kuldeep Yadav, 9 Jasprit Bumrah, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, and 11 Jaydev Unadkat
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, must bolster their batting and only way that can happen is if they drop an all-rounder. Dasun Shanaka might get the axe after just one match in the best interest of the team, while left-arm spinner Chaturanga de Silva might also get a look-in in place of the erratic and usually expensive Dushmantha Chameera.
Possible Sri Lanka playing 11: 1 Thisara Perera (c), 2 Upul Tharanga, 3 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 4 Angelo Mathews, 5 Sadeera Samarawickrama, 6 Kusal Perera, 7 Asela Gunaratne, 8 Chaturanga de Silva, 9 Nuwan Pradeep, 10 Akila Dananjaya, and 11 Vishwa Fernando
India are overwhelming favourites to win in Indore and secure another series win against Sri Lanka. The visitors cannot play worse than they did in Cuttack, the performance of the batting line-up cannot be poorer, and an improved performance from them will give them a decent chance of at least competing. Again, the best chance of Sri Lanka putting up a fight is if they bat first and reach 150.