Dharamsala weather in focus as India hunt for 11th straight T20 win against injury-hit Sri Lanka


SL’s batting line-up could be bolstered after new squad members were added

Big picture

With both India and Sri Lanka missing many of their first-choice players, it was going to be a battle of bench strengths. Few countries enjoy the depth India have and that was evident during the first T20I in Lucknow. The 62-run win margin, huge in itself, looks even more crushing when you glance at India’s bowling card. Their four frontline bowlers – Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Harshal Patel and Yuzvendra Chahal – didn’t complete their quotas as India tried Venkatesh Iyer and Deepak Hooda for three overs each.

After their early exit at the last T20 World Cup, India have taken a few steps in the right direction, especially with their top three batters showing more intent. With Venkatesh stepping up with both bat and ball and Ravindra Jadeja making a comeback, they seem to have a sixth bowling option covered as well.

However, their fielding, especially catching, is one area that still needs work. The three catches dropped on Thursday could have proved costly on another day. If their goal is to be the best fielding side at the upcoming T20 World Cup in Australia, as Rohit Sharma said after the match, they will look to improve on those metrics.

After their first T20I loss, Sri Lanka were dealt another blow on Friday: Mystery spinner Maheesh Theekshana and batter Kusal Mendis have been ruled out of the T20I series with their hamstring injuries.

In the absence of Theekshana (and Wanindu Hasaranga), it will once again be down to Jeffrey Vandersay and Praveen Jayawickrama to shoulder the responsibility in the spin department. The pace attack looks relatively experienced and settled but for Sri Lanka to beat India at home, not only their bowlers but also their batters need to come good. Sri Lanka know that, and therefore have added Niroshan Dickwella and Dhananjaya de Silva to the T20I squad with the two injuries.

Form guide

India WWWWW (last five completed T20Is, most recent first)

Sri Lanka LWLLL

In the spotlight

In the last few years, Bhuvneshwar Kumar has struggled with his form and fitness, but every now and then he shows what peak Bhuvneshwar brings to the table, with his ability to swing the new ball and deliver yorkers and slower ones at the death. Last year, when England posted 188 for 8 in their unsuccessful chase of 225, Bhuvneshwar had figures of 4-0-15-2. Last week, his four-run 19th over against West Indies all but sealed the game for India. On Thursday, he dented Sri Lanka’s chase with 2 for 9 from two overs. India would like to see more of that from him before the World Cup comes around.
Charith Asalanka was among the top five run scorers at the 2021 T20 World Cup. He had a difficult time in Australia earlier this month, where he managed just 64 runs in five innings (average 12.80, strike rate 114.28), but showed encouraging signs during his unbeaten 53 off 47 balls on Thursday. In fact, he was the only Sri Lanka batter to show any fight.

Team news

Ruturaj Gaikwad was ruled out of the first T20I after he complained of pain in his right wrist, which is affecting his batting. If he remains unavailable, India could go in with an unchanged XI.

India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Ishan Kishan (wk), 3 Shreyas Iyer, 4 Sanju Samson, 5 Deepak Hooda, 6 Venkatesh Iyer, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Harshal Patel, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal

To infuse some experience into the batting line-up, Sri Lanka could replace Kamil Mishara with Danushka Gunathilaka, while Dinesh Chandimal could make way for Dickwella.

Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Danushka Gunathilaka, 2 Pathum Nissanka, 3 Charith Asalanka, 4 Janith Liyanage, 5 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 6 Dasun Shanaka (capt), 7 Chamika Karunaratne, 8 Dushmantha Chameera, 9 Jeffrey Vandersay, 10 Praveen Jayawickrama, 11 Lahiru Kumara

Pitch and conditions

The last time India were to play an international match in scenic Dharamsala, rain didn’t allow even a coin toss. The same thing had happened during their last scheduled T20I here. And rain could play spoilsport on Saturday as well. Given the last T20I in Dharamsala was played back in 2016, it’s difficult to say how the pitch will behave.

Stats and trivia

  • Since losing to New Zealand at the T20 World Cup, India have won ten T20Is on the trot. The record for the most successive T20I wins is held jointly by Afghanistan and Romania with 12 wins.
  • Sri Lanka have won three and lost 12 of the 16 T20Is they have played in India. Their win-loss ratio of 0.250 is their joint-worst in any country.
  • Chahal’s 67 T20I wickets are now the most for India. He overtook Bumrah, who has 66 scalps.
  • Quotes

    “We have been very predictable in the games against big teams, thinking much about keeping our wickets in hand and slogging in the second half of the innings. But right now it’s very simple. All of us are so talented, we have got shots in our pockets and the captain and the coach believe in us. So we have to just go there and play our game. If the ball is there then we need to go for it rather than just taking a single.”
    Ishan Kishan on India’s approach with the bat at the start of the innings

    Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

    Read More | Source: ESPN cricinfo

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