Sri Lanka v India
R Premadas Stadium, Colombo
Match 1, Sri Lanka T20I Tri-Series 2018
Tuesday 6 March; 19:00 local time, 13:30 GMT
When India last visited Sri Lanka, in July-August 2017, they blanked the hosts across formats, sweeping the three Tests, five one-day internationals and lone Twenty20 international.
When Sri Lanka toured India later in the year, in November-December, they enjoyed some success, winning one ODI and drawing two Tests, but they still lost series in all formats, including a 3-0 sweep in the T20Is.
The teams will meet again, for a series of T20Is – and this time, it’s a special occasion. India and Bangladesh are in the island nation for the Nidahas Trophy, which marks 70 years of Sri Lankan independence.
Sri Lanka will be keen to reverse their recent trend of losses to India when the teams face off in the triangular series opener. And with India sending a new-look side, it could be their best chance to do so.
India have rested Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, as well as Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya and Kuldeep Yadav, from the side that won 2-1 in South Africa. Rohit Sharma will take charge, leading youngsters like Washington Sundar, Mohammed Siraj and Rishabh Pant.
That said, the team has considerable experience in Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Suresh Raina, Manish Pandey and KL Rahul among the batsmen, while Yuzvendra Chahal, in the absence of Kuldeep, should form a formidable spin pairing with Axar Patel.
Sri Lanka too have had a shake-up since their series win in Bangladesh. Asela Gunaratne, Shehan Madushanka and Angelo Mathews are out through injury, with Dinesh Chandimal leading the side and taking the wicket-keeper’s gloves.
Kusal Perera, though, returns from injury to shore up the batting, while Nuwan Pradeep and Suranga Lakmal are back to lend experience to the pace attack.
Kusal Mendis (Sri Lanka): The 23-year-old batsman is considered one of Sri Lanka’s brightest prospects in Test cricket, but didn’t have too much success in the shortest format to start with. That appears to have changed in recent times, though. Called up for the Bangladesh T20Is, he made a pair of fifties and kept up that form in the domestic circuit with another pair of fifties in three games.
Rishabh Pant (India): With veteran Dhoni rested, the 20-year-old wicket-keeper batsman has got another chance with the Indian team. He has been in spectacular form in domestic matches, smashing a 32-ball century, the second-fastest of all time in the 20-over format, in January this year.
It’s hot and humid in Colombo. The last T20I at the R Premadasa Stadium was a good one for run scoring when the hosts took on India, with both teams putting on at least 170.
Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (c, wk), Upul Tharanga, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Dasun Shanaka, Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera, Jeevan Mendis, Suranga Lakmal, Isuru Udana, Akila Dananjaya, Amila Aponso, Nuwan Pradeep, Dushmantha Chameera, Dananjaya de Silva.
India: Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Suresh Raina, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Deepak Hooda, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Rishabh Pant (wk), Vijay Shankar, Shardul Thakur, Jaydev Unadkat, Mohammed Siraj.