About the Match
The Test Series and ODI series have been won in the most comprehensive manner possible by the Indian team and the focus will now shift to the solitary T20 match. India will definitely want to keep their unbeaten stint going on this tour while Sri Lanka will hope to be much more competitive in their preferred format of the game.
A 15 man squad for the T20 match was announced at the start of the Indian tour but another one with some changes in it was announced a couple of days back. It is a sign of the uncertainty that has entered every part of Sri Lankan cricket as their decline has continued unabated.
The T20 format has been Sri Lanka’s most successful form of the game in 2017. They have recorded creditable victories over Australia and South Africa while also drawing a two match series against Bangladesh.
Part of the reason behind this success in the shortest format of the game has been the fact that T20 brings competing teams much closer to each other and thus allows for upsets while another part has been the fact that both Australia and South Africa fielded experimental teams against Sri Lanka.
Upul Tharanga will be leading the Sri Lankans fresh off the announcement that he is withdrawing from Test cricket to concentrate on the shortest formats of the game. This will be the first that he will be captaining Sri Lanka in a full T20 international.
Kusal Mendis has been rested because of mental fatigue, while Lakshan Sandakan has been dropped from the squad. Both these moves are baffling to us since these are the two players that have shown the ability to do something special and wrest games from the opposition.
Lasith Malinga will be leading the bowling attack and will be partnered by Suranga Lakmal, returning from a back niggle. Akila Dananjaya started off the ODI series brilliantly before fading away towards the end but the requirement of batsmen to go after him in T20 cricket will make him very dangerous once again.
A look at the Sri Lankan squad though shows that they are struggling to find dependable batsmen in all formats of the game. Dickwella at the top of the order will be expected to provide the fireworks while Angelo Mathews will be around the steady the ship if necessary and then unleash at the end.
Around these two are a raft of all-rounders including Siriwardana, Thisara Perera, and Wanindu Hasaranga. It is almost as if the Sri Lankan selectors were unsure whether to shore up the bowling or the batting and so decided to go for players that do a bit of both.
The Indian team is probably the only major cricketing nation that does not really pick a very different squad for the T20’s as compared to their ODI team. That could also be a reason for the success in ODI’s since they have a number of players that can adapt to both formats of the game.
The strength of this Indian team is undoubtedly their batting. We expect a return to the full strength Indian team for this one off T20 as they attempt to win all the formats of the game on this tour. Shikar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma will open the batting followed by Virat Kohli at 3.
These three are often enough to win games on their own and it will require something really special for India to be tested beyond these three.
There is intense competition for spots after these three though with Manish Pandey, KL Rahul and Kedar Jadhav competing for two spots. MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, and the four bowlers will follow to give a very balanced look to this Indian team.
We think that KL Rahul may have to sit this match out along with Shardul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal, and Ajinkya Rahane.
All four of the players that are sitting out could easily substitute for a member of the playing 11 and that is the real strength of this Indian side at the moment.
The bowling lineup of Jaspreet Bumrah, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel will be very hard to get away. Bumrah is a death overs specialist while Kumar can also get the yorkers in with great regularity.
Kuldeep Yadav brings variety and the ability to take wickets at any time while Axar Patel is very good at keeping the runs down.
With every player in good form, there is very little that India needs to worry about. If anything, they may start to question whether they are being tested enough for the challenges up ahead.
Pitch and Conditions
The batting conditions at Colombo were absolutely brilliant for the last two ODI’s and the same can be expected for the T20 international. Some amount of help is available for the fast bowlers under lights which should make it an even contest between bat and ball.
Plenty of rain is expected to fall in Colombo on match day. Hopefully, it will stop for long enough for the match to be played out.
India to win