Focus on Bumrah, Dhawan as India face Sri Lanka

Match details
Barsapara Cricket Stadium, Guwahati
January 5, Sunday; 19:00 IST

The main picture
It’s the first of 20 Twenty20 Internationals for India in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup in Australia and, with their squad for the showpiece event more or less settled, the three-match series against Sri Lanka offers Virat Kohli and co. further room to simulate match situations and hone their recalibrated approach to T20 batting that underpinned their 2-1 series win against the West Indies.

With Rohit Sharma and Mohammed Shami rested, India aren’t at full-strength but Jasprit Bumrah’s return from a lower back stress fracture feels timely and Shikhar Dhawan takes Rohit’s spot after recovering from a knee injury that had kept him out of the West Indies series last month. With KL Rahul having thrived as an opener in the T20Is and ODIs against Kieron Pollard’s men, Dhawan is potentially playing for his opening spot for the T20I series against New Zealand later this month.

Sri Lanka, who are a team in transition, have brought a squad that’s brimming with talent while the return of former captain Angelo Mathews should add experience and calm to the batting line-up.

With a similar squad, Sri Lanka lost their last T20I series 3-0 to Australia Down Under. Sans captain Lasith Malinga and other key players, who had pulled out due to security concerns, the 2014 T20 World Cup winner had thumped Pakistan 3-0 in their own den but the series defeat to Australia was a reality check for the Islanders, who face an equally sterner challenge against an Indian side who are rediscovering themselves and have been bolstered by Bumrah’s return. This is also coach Mickey Arthur’s first limited-overs assignment since taking over from Chandika Hathurusingha.

Anti-CAA protests in Assam had cast doubt over the first T20 International, but the Assam Cricket Association president Romen Dutta confirmed on Thursday the match will be played as per schedule. Speaking on Friday, the city’s commissioner of police MP Gupta said the security has been beefed up and confirmed that posters or sketch pens will not be allowed inside the stadium.

Barsapara Cricket Stadium pitch report and weather forecast

The venue has hosted two international matches so far, with the only T20 International, played in September 2017, being a low-scoring one which India lost to Australia. Left-arm seamer Jason Behrendorff found appreciable movement to disconcert the Indian top order, finishing with a match-winning four-wicket haul. Expect the pitch to be good for batting, though the likelihood of dew means the captain winning the toss is likely to opt to field first.

India vs Sri Lanka 1st T20 playing 11

Predicted India playing 11: 1 Virat Kohli (c), 2 KL Rahul, 3 Shikhar Dhawan, 4 Shreyas Iyer, 5 Rishabh Pant (wk), 6 Manish Pandey/Shivam Dube, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Washington Sundar, 9 Shardul Thakur, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Navdeep Saini

Possible Sri Lanka playing 11: 1 Lasith Malinga (c), 2 Kusal Mendis, 3 Danushka Gunathilaka, 4 Kusal Perera (wk), 5 Avishka Fernando, 6 Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 7 Dhananjaya de Silva, 8 Dasun Shanaka, 9 Isuru Udana, 10 Wanindu Hasaranga, 11 Lahiru Kumara

India vs Sri Lanka 1st T20I telecast channel

The first T20 International between India and Sri Lanka will be telecast on the Star Sports network and streamed live on Hotstar.