It is not yet clear if Shaw and Suryakumar will be available for the second T20I
This preview was prepared prior to the scheduled start of the second T20I on Tuesday.
Sri Lanka have lost 13 of their last 14 completed matches. Although this is not India’s main team – and there may be further changes following Krunal Pandya* testing positive for Covid-19 – they are more experienced in the format than Sri Lanka, and won comfortably on Sunday. So how do the hosts turn this series around? With a T20 World Cup coming up late in the year, how do they turn their whole game around?On Sunday’s evidence, it is Sri Lanka’s middle order that needs the most work. With Dasun Shanaka out of form, and Wanindu Hasaranga having so far failed to provide the kinds of innings he produced in England, they have been short of firepower through the middle and late stages. In the first match, only Minod Bhanuka (10 off 7) and Charith Asalanka (44 off 26) struck at more than 120.India, you suspect, will feel as if they didn’t bat particularly well in that first match, and yet, their bowlers were good enough to defend their 164 for 5. Bhuvneshwar Kumar ended up with the most wickets, but as has been the case through the tour, Yuzvendra Chahal has troubled Sri Lanka most – some flat out failing to read him, others yet to work out how to score against him, as he gains substantial turn from the Khettarama surface and varies his pace effectively. On the batting front, each of the top four – Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Sanju Samson, and Suryakumar Yadav – has been in decent touch this tour.
(completed matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka LLLLL
In the spotlight
Like any new captain, Dasun Shanaka wants respect in the dressing room. So far on India’s visit, though, he has not quite found his best form with the bat, failing to produce those explosive, finishing innings. It is India’s wristspin that has usually worked against him – Chahal getting him twice in the ODIs, and Varun Chakravarthy having him stumped on Sunday. If he can overcome this apparent weakness, a boundary-laden innings would do Shanaka, and by extension the team, a world of good.
Hardik Pandya made headlines in Sri Lanka, first for giving Chamika Karunaratne (who describes Hardik as a role model) his bat before the first match, and then singing along to the Sri Lankan national anthem. This has been enough to win hearts on the island, but you suspect he is not particularly satisfied with that. His batting form seems to have deserted him, and his bowling has been only marginally better. He also dropped a straightforward catch on Sunday. He is generally a cricketer of such soaring confidence it seems almost unthinkable he could be feeling down about his game. But he’s got only two innings left to rediscover some of that hitting ability.
Pitch and conditions
The surface is likely to be good for batting again, though it will take turn, as all Khettarama tracks do. Colombo has had heavy rain on Monday, and there is a chance of bad weather interrupting the match, but there should be enough play to constitute a match.
Krunal and eight others identified as his close contacts are now isolating to prevent further spread of the virus. So India’s XI for this game is going to involve a lot of guesswork. Additionally, it is not totally clear whether Shaw and Suryakumar are available, given they have been called up to the Test squad in England. But after the first T20I, Dhawan did say he expected them to be available, so we’ll go with his word.
India (possible): 1 Prithvi Shaw, 2 Shikhar Dhawan (capt), 3 Sanju Samson, 4 Suryakumar Yadav, 5 Ishan Kishan (wk), 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 K Gowtham, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Deepak Chahar, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Varun Chakravarthy
You would have thought Ashen Bandara batted himself out of the XI with his nine off 19 in the first match, but with Bhanuka Rajapaksa still likely to be out with a finger injury, and Asalanka also doubtful now with a hamstring complaint, Sri Lanka are running out of batters in the squad. Sadeera Samarawickrama may come in.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Avishka Fernando, 2 Minod Bhanuka (wk), 3 Sadeera Samarawickrama, 4 Dhananjaya de Silva, 5 Ashen Bandara, 6 Dasun Shanaka (capt.), 7 Wanindu Hasaranga, 8 Chamika Karunaratne, 9 Isuru Udana, 10 Dushmantha Chameera, 11 Akila Dananjaya
Stats and trivia
Despite having played 43 innings in the format, Shanaka’s T20I strike rate is 108.
India have now won 11 of their last 12 completed T20Is against Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka’s three top T20I runscorers since 2016 – Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera, and Danushka Gunathilaka – are all unavailable for this series. Kusal is out through injury, Gunathilaka is suspended, and Thisara retired earlier in the year.
*1220 GMT July 27, 2021 This story was updated with information about Krunal Pandya’s illness
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf
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