Their confidence at its lowest ebb after continuous failures, a beleaguered India would look to pick up the pieces and make a fresh start when they take on an upbeat Sri Lanka in their first warm-up game of the ICC World Twenty20 in Mirpur on Monday.
While the proper tournament will begin for India on March 21 against arch-rivals Pakistan, the two warm-up ties will provide captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni with a chance to sort out his playing combination before the real action begins.
The warm-up tie gives the team a chance to try out all 15 players in the squad. Therefore while all the batsmen can expect to get a hit in match situation, the bowlers will also get an opportunity to prove their worth to the skipper.
Also the fact that Indian players, smarting from disastrous tours of South Africa and New Zealand besides the failed Asia Cup campaign, will be playing competitive T20 after five months will also help them adapt quickly having last played a T20 international in October against Australia.
The result of the match is of little consequence as various combinations are expected to be tried out. The most interesting aspect will be the opening combination in this format.
Sikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma are regular opening pair in ODIs. But Rohit’s initial struggle against white kookaburra in the 50-over format is well documented.
T20 would not give the Mumbaikar enough time to settle down. Ajinkya Rahane, who has successfully opened for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League, might just partner Dhawan in such a scenario.
If the last match of the Asia Cup against Afghanistan is an indicator, then Rahane has a bright chance of opening the batting for India.
Yuvraj Singh, one of India’s proven match-winners, will be making a comeback along with Suresh Raina, who is also returning to the national team after being dumped from the Asia Cup squad on grounds of indifferent form.