As the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 has been postponed, the focus has shifted towards Team India’s international matches, starting with World Test Championship (WTC) from next month.
After the WTC final against New Zealand, India are supposed to travel to Sri Lanka for the white-ball series in July. Thereafter, England will host India for the five-match Test series beginning from August.
While the senior team featuring the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Ravindra Jadeja will take on New Zealand and England in red-ball format, a specialist white-ball side with some fresh faces shall tour Sri Lanka to play three ODIs and as many T20Is.
Undoubtedly, the Lankan tour will give a great opportunity to selectors to test the team’s bench strength. This series will also help players showcase their skills as most of them will be eying to grab a place in Team India’s squad for the ICC T20 World Cup later this year.
Since the squad for the India vs Sri Lanka series hasn’t yet announced, let’s have a look at a 17-man outfit that could form a possible combination.
Senior lad Shikhar Dhawan will most likely lead the batting unit in the absence of Virat and Rohit. Dhawan had a remarkable IPL 2021, where he claimed the orange cap. The left-hander scored 380 runs from eight matches at a brilliant average of 54.28. Since Dhawan is the most experienced customer in the side, he is an ideal choice to captain the team as well.
Prithvi Shaw, who missed out to get a place in India’s red-ball squad, will be joining the white-ball side. Like Dhawan, Shaw also enjoyed fruitful outings in the fourteenth edition of the cash-rich league. Before the IPL 2021, the right-handed batter had a tremendous domestic season as well.
Shreyas Iyer would surely be featured in the squad had he been fit. As per media reports, Iyer, who picked up a shoulder injury during the England home series, would not recover soon as on April 8, he had surgery, and it may take three months for him to regain full fitness.
In place of Iyer, Mumbai Indians (MI) star Suryakumar Yadav is a perfect choice. He had an average IPL 2021, but Surya impressed everyone with his dominating performance in his second T20I against England.
Manish Pandey will also travel to Lanka as India need someone experienced in the middle-order who can play the role of an anchor. More importantly, this may be the last opportunity for the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) batsman to revive his international career.
Sanju Samson and Ishan Kishan will be the preferred choice for wicketkeepers. Kishan had a disappointing IPL 2021, but he will get an opportunity to prove his talent in the international arena. On the other hand, Sanju had a pretty good season in the lucrative league, scoring plenty of runs for Rajasthan Royals (RR), including a sensational hundred. The Sri Lanka tour would give both a chance to consolidate their place in the Indian team.
As Jadeja will most likely not be available for the Lanka tour, Hardik Pandya is expected to cash in the opportunity from both hands. With the T20 World Cup on the skyline, all focus would be on Pandya as well. He had a pretty good series against Australia but struggled against England at home. So, fans, as well as Team India, would want him to show some consistency.
Along with Jaddu, Axar Patel and Washington Sundar will also be unavailable, and in this scenario, Krunal Pandya and Rahul Tewatia will get a chance to prove themselves as quality spin-allrounder. While Krunal would look to start from fresh after a not so good series against England, Tewatia would be hungry to get an elbow-room to prove his mettle.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar was not picked for the whites, so he is expected to join the team to play limited-overs fixtures. If Bhuvi comes, he should be the leader of the bowling attack and the team’s vice-captain. Bhuvi had a tremendous comeback in the home series against England and would be looking to repeat the same in the Island nation.
Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini and Prasidh Krishna are other contenders who will assist Bhuvneshwar in the pace attack. While Deepak and Prasidh would be effective in the opening spells, Bhuvneshwar and Navdeep can take the responsibility of death bowling.
Team India have sufficient options among spinners. The two most experienced guys are Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, who, if perform together, can dismantle any batting attack. While Yuzi has been quite good for India, Kuldeep has been struggling after not getting regular chances. The Sri Lanka tour may allow Indian management to bring back the ultimate ‘Kul-Cha’ combination.
Remaining two spinners are relatively inexperienced customers Rahul Chahar and Varun Chakravarthy, but the duo carry huge talent that can puzzle any opposition. Both Varun and Chahar had a decent IPL 2021 and will be eyeing to show their ‘A-Game’ if they get a chance to play against Sri Lanka.
Here is Team India’s predicted squad for the Sri Lanka tour:
Shikhar Dhawan (c), Prithvi Shaw, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Manish Pandey, Sanju Samson, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Rahul Tewatia, Bhuvneshwar Kumar (vc), Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, Rahul Chahar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Varun Chakravarthy, Prasidh Krishna, Kuldeep Yadav.