The hosts have lost all but one of their last 13 completed T20Is
Sri Lanka, by the way, haven’t qualified for the T20 World Cup main draw yet. They need a top-two finish in the first round – where they are grouped alongside Ireland, Netherlands and Namibia – to enter the Super 12 stages. As for India, they are bona-fide contenders for the title along with West Indies and England. This series will be the last chance for them to fine-tune their plans before the tournament.
Sri Lanka LLLLW (Last five completed T20Is, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Over the years, Sri Lanka have had many mystery spinners who have bamboozled oppositions – remember Ajantha Mendis and Sachithra Senanayake? – and now India have one of their own in Varun Chakravarthy. Chakravarthy can bowl in the powerplay, in the middle overs, and also in the slog, which is why the team management is giving him another crack at international cricket, despite having failed two fitness tests in the past.
Kasun Rajitha has been ruled out with injury while Hasaranga is likely to return to the team despite the short turnaround. If Hasaranga is fit, Jayawickrama will have to wait for his T20I debut. Sri Lanka might also consider bringing back Isuru Udana, who is more of a T20 specialist.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Avishka Fernando, 2 Minod Bhanuka (wk), 3 Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 4 Dhananjaya de Silva, 5 Charith Asalanka, 6 Dasun Shanaka (capt), 7 Chamika Karunaratne, 8 Wanindu Hasaranga/Praveen Jayawickrama, 9 Isuru Udana, 10 Dushmantha Chameera, 11 Akila Dananjaya
Chakravarthy, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Devdutt Padikkal were the only three players from India’s squad who didn’t get a game in the preceding ODI series. While there are no real vacancies in the batting line-up, Chakravarthy could potentially make his first international appearance. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Deepak Chahar are likely to slot back into the XI, having been rested among six changes on Friday.
India (probable): 1 Prithvi Shaw, 2 Shikhar Dhawan (capt), 3 Ishan Kishan (wk), 4 Sanju Samson, 5 Suryakumar Yadav, 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Krunal Pandya/K Gowtham, 8 Deepak Chahar, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Varun Chakravarthy, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal/Rahul Chahar
Pitch and conditions
The Khettarama pitch could take turn as it had done during the ODIs. The overhead conditions might be cloudy, with chances of rain on Sunday evening too.
Stats and trivia
- Three batters had scored more runs than Shaw’s 308 in the first half of IPL 2021 but nobody in the top 20 had a greater strike rate than his 166.48.
- Sri Lanka last won a bilateral T20I series in 2019, when a second-string side toured Pakistan and surprised them. They’ve lost each of their next five rubbers since.
- India have won 13 of the 19 T20Is they have played against Sri Lanka.
“I did change a few little things between the England series and this one. I had an issue with my front leg going to the off side too much. So I corrected that in training, and then because of that I was able to get back in the runs.”
Sri Lanka opening batter Avishka Fernando
“After I came to Mumbai Indians in 2018, things started changing a bit. I got to know what my responsibility is, how do I go about my game, how can I take it one step ahead.”
India middle-order batter Suryakumar Yadav
Deivarayan Muthu is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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