Sport

Yet another home series victory beckons India

Every which way! Shikhar Dhawan, who had the longest stint at Thursday’s nets, seemed set on proving his value to the team.

Every which way! Shikhar Dhawan, who had the longest stint at Thursday’s nets, seemed set on proving his value to the team.   | Photo Credit: Vivek Bendre

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Dhawan and Rahul battle for second opener’s slot in interesting sideshow; Lankans have an onerous task on hand

Besides Jasprit Bumrah’s return to competitive cricket after four months, the most significant aspect of the three-match T20I series against Sri Lanka is the face-off between K.L. Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan for the second opener’s position.

Stage set for duel

With Rohit Sharma rested, Rahul and Dhawan have been presented an opportunity to make their case, against a mediocre bowling unit. After the first match was washed out in Guwahati, Rahul had a better outing in Tuesday’s second T20 in Indore.

Come Friday, stylish left-hander Dhawan will be keen to have his say in helping India win yet another home series at the Maharashtra Cricket Association stadium here.

While Rahul preferred to rest instead of joining teammates for an optional training session, Dhawan, who looked a bit rusty in his first appearance for India in two months, made optimum use of Thursday’s training.

Rishabh Pant, meanwhile, was busy tonking the ball onto the adjoining Mumbai-Pune Expressway. Dhawan, on the other hand, put his head down and worked on getting his timing right.

His was perhaps the longest stint in India’s two-and-a-half-hour session.

With the countdown to the T20 World Cup in October having switched into the next gear at the turn of the decade, it will be interesting to see if Dhawan can seize the opportunity on a belter of a track and add to the selectors’ headache.

The absence of left-arm pacer Isuru Udana, who hurt his back in the field in Indore, will leave the Sri Lankan bowling attack as a one-man unit, with captain Lasith Malinga barely having any credible support.

Udana’s injury will most likely result in Angelo Mathews’ T20 comeback after well over 16 months.

Captain Malinga and newly-appointed coach Mickey Arthur will be hoping that Mathews gives the team the fillip it needs, especially in the batting department.

The Sri Lankan batters, barring Kusal Perera, looked at sea against the Indian attack in Indore.

They appeared listless, be it against the raw pace and variations of the triumvirate of Bumrah, Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur or against the quality spin of Kuldeep Yadav and Washington Sundar.

Pleasant memories

With an injury-plagued bowling attack, Sri Lanka cannot even think of re-living the feat of 2016, when it bowled India out for 101 at the same venue. If it has to be competitive on Friday, Mathews and Perera will have to lead a batting revival.

The teams (from):

India: Virat Kohli (Capt.), Shikhar Dhawan, K.L. Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Shivam Dube, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur, Manish Pandey, Washington Sundar and Sanju Samson.

Sri Lanka: Lasith Malinga (Capt.), Danushka Gunathilaka, Avishka Fernando, Angelo Mathews, Dasun Shanaka, Kusal Perera, Niroshan Dickwella, Dhananjaya de Silva, Isuru Udana, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Oshada Fernando, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lahiru Kumara, Kusal Mendis, Lakshan Sandakan and Kasun Rajitha.

On-field umpires: Virender Sharma, Nitin Menon; TV umpire: C. Shamshuddin. Fourth umpire: K. Srinivasan. Match referee: David Boon

Match starts at 7 p.m.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 5:54:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/yet-another-home-series-victory-beckons-india/article30526226.ece

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