After a couple of consecutive full tours between India and Sri Lanka, we are once again set to be treated to another Indian visit to the Sri Lankan shores. Thankfully, the presence of Bangladesh as the third side will add some more intrigue to the series.
India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh will lock horns in a T20 tri-series where each team will play each other twice before contesting in the final. While the series is being seen as a filler before the T20 season gets underway in earnest, the players competing will want to take this opportunity to make their mark on the international stage.
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The hosts Sri Lanka have seen enough of both India and Bangladesh in the recent past to know whats coming for them. While India blanked Sri Lanka in the last five matches that they have played against them, Sri Lanka managed to beat Bangladesh 2-0 in their most recently completed series.
It is a sign of how far Sri Lanka has fallen as well as the improvement in Bangladesh cricket that the result is being seen as a major plus for Sri Lankan cricket. A lot of players, as well as cricket watchers, are keen to attribute this change in Sri Lankan fortunes to the new Coach, Hathurusingha.
The new Sri Lankan coach is the old Bangladesh coach and so can be expected to come with a close knowledge of at least one opposition. He will also be well versed with the Indian team even though there are some new faces in the squad.
Sri Lanka is looking to expand its player pool by playing different combinations for different conditions. The return of Kusal Mendis into the team is a big plus and he seems to have taken to the opening position with ease. With players like Gunathilaka, Tharanga, Thisara Perera, Shanaka, and Chandimal also in the lineup, the Sri Lankan batting should be pretty formidable. In fact, they have also re-introduced some all-rounders like Jeevan Mendis to the squad to add more balance to the side.
The role of Akila Dananjaya is set to increase over the next few months as he is being identified as an \u2018X\u2019 factor that can win games for Sri Lanka. The return of Suranga Lakmal and Nuwan Pradeep will also boost the stocks of the Sri Lankan bowling.
The hosts have put together a full-strength squad for this tournament and we completely agree with the decision. Sri Lankan cricket needs to register some meaningful wins to be able to come back to the position it has enjoyed over the last couple of decades.
India has just returned from a very hectic and successful tour of South Africa where they displayed their dominance in the shorter formats of the game. With the IPL on the horizon as well, India has decided to give a rest to most of its frontline bowlers and some key batsmen as well.
Missing from action are Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, and Kuldeep Yadav. This means that while the Indian batting is still very strong, their bench strength is going to be severely tested on the bowling front.
The opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan is one of the best in this format of the game. While Rohit Sharma struggled in South African conditions, it will take a brave man to bet against him in subcontinental conditions.
Suresh Raina struck form in the last match he played against South Africa, Manish Pandey made some useful runs as well. These two players should fill the gaps at 3 and 4. We would be interested to see where Rishab Pant and Dinesh Karthik stack up. Both of them are wicketkeepers but they also make a case to played on the basis of their batting alone.\r\n\r\nLokesh Rahul, Deepak Hooda, and Washington Sundar are also vying for a spot in the playing eleven. This Indian side may feature young players that are not as experienced as the players missing out but they this is not a weak side by any stretch of the imagination.
We would like to see the team management give chances to the youngsters and build on India\u2019s bench strength. Shardul Thakur and Jayadev Unadkat will the two fast bowlers who must use this opportunity to become the prime backup options for India going forward otherwise we can see the Indian selectors looking elsewhere in the future.
T20 cricket seems to be the format that Bangladesh most struggles in which is a little strange considering their players play plenty of T20 cricket around the world. The team is set to be led by Shakib Al Hasan even though there is some concern regarding his fitness. It is quite possible that Shakib may miss the first couple of matches in the tournament.
Bangladesh was blanked by Sri Lanka at home and in South Africa before that in the T20 format. They have some very talented players but for some reason, consistency is not something that can be associated with Bangladesh cricket.
The fortunes of the team will depend upon the performances of Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, and Imrul Kayes with the bat. Mahmudullah had a stellar World Cup 2015 but has never been able to regain those heights. We don\u2019t rate him very highly and think Bangladesh would be better moving on from him.\r\n\r\nThe Bangladeshi bowling also has a decent look about it. Mustafizur Rahman may be going through a rough patch but is still a very difficult bowler to get a hold of. Shakib Al Hasan is dependable on most days while the likes of Rubel Hossain and Taskin Ahmed can pick up early wickets as well.
On paper, this Bangladeshi team should be able to compete with India and Sri Lanka quite easily. In fact, Bangladesh would fancy getting the better of a raw Indian side and a Sri Lankan side that is still rebuilding.
We think the biggest hurdle that Bangladesh has to overcome is their own mental setup. Too often we see Bangladesh cricketers trying to play the glory shots or bowl the glory deliveries rather than just do the basics right.
The resources at their disposal are now world class and the team is very capable of beating the best teams on its day. When that form will come around, though, is the question.
All three teams are very familiar with each other and have played a lot of T20 cricket recently
India has chosen to rest five of its first choice players while Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are sending full-strength squads
India still has the bench strength to be able to put up a formidable team on the park
Finalists: India and Sri Lanka
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