India has a chance to bounce back from their recent painful T20 World Cup semi-final exit to England when they face tourists Sri Lanka in a whistlestop six-match limited overs series.
Although three Indians were named in the ICC’s Team of the Tournament for the T20 World Cup held in Australia, their focus is to fend off the challenge of Sri Lanka in January.
Batsman Virat Kohli, his middle order partner Suryakumar Yadav and all rounder Hardik Pandya were recognised for their contributions to finish in the top overall team during November’s compelling three-week competition.
But now India needs to turn their attention to the future. Their biggest threat will be outstanding Sri Lankan all rounder Wanindu Hasaranga, who captures wickets with aplomb in one-day battles.
His remarkable ability, albeit in the middle order, to hit huge sixes as well as come up crucial runs makes him a dangerous opponent. Hasaranga is the world’s no1 bowler in the T20I format, and certainly can be a game-changer once he finds his rhythm.
Sri Lanka toured India in February and March 2022, where they were outplayed to lose the T20I series 3-0 and the two-match Test series 2-0. They will certainly be aiming to improve on that showing.
With games coming fast and furious at the start of the year, this may not be such a straightforward set of victories for the hosts. For those who fancy a flutter on the victors, total runs and wickets then it is worth checking out the best sign up bets from top Australian bookmakers such as Unibet and BlueBet to profit from the latest odds.
The T20Is are scheduled for 3, 5 and 7 January in Mumbai, Pune and Rajkot respectively where home support will be vocal. The ODIs follow on 10. 12 and 15 January in Guwahati, Kolkata and Trivandrum respectively, again frantic fans will make it a real cauldron for the tourists.
India, who beat Sri Lanka by six wickets the last time the ODI World Cup was held on their home soil back in 2011, will be aiming to use these six matches to springboard their one-day skills to a higher level.
With the 2023 ODI World Cup hosted by India, they will be hoping that history will repeat itself as they eye up capturing their first ICC trophy since MS Dhoni led them to the 2013 Champions Trophy title.
Sri Lanka’s cricket seems to be in dire straits, with the governing board of SLC having requested the ICC to probe match-fixing allegations following the 1-1 drawn Test series against visiting Pakistan in July.
India has a plethora of talent to call upon. Kohli finished the T20 World Cup as the leading run-scorer with 296 runs, with Suryakumar third in the runs tally for the tournament with 239 runs while Pandya hit 128 runs and notched eight wickets.
Shubman Gill is expected to play a key role as an opener for the six-match series against Sri Lanka. With Suryakumar Yadav, the world’s world no.1 T20I batsman, likely to be utilised in his regular no.4 position.
Ishan Kishan is expected to be called up for the T20I series to take over the wicketkeeper’s gloves from Rishabh Pant, who may only be selected for the ODI series.
Captain Pandya, who can clock 140+ km/h with the ball and finds the boundary at whim, could be without Saurashtra all rounder Ravindra Jadeja because of injury.
However, India boast a dearth of spinner bowling all rounder talent in the shape of Shahbaz Ahmed, Deepak Hooda and Washington Sundar as the primary all-rounders of the squad.
Pandya has options to call on pacers with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Umran Malik and Arshdeep Singh.
With the Sri Lanka series viewed as a done deal for India, it seems that this will be a warm-up before they welcome New Zealand for another six-match limited overs series.
The three-match ODI series and a three-match T20I series will run from 18 January to 1 February. These matches will be contested in Hyderabad, Raipur, Indore, Ranchi, Lucknow, and Ahmedabad respectively.
Australia, the current Test world no.1 team, will tour India for four Tests and March’s three-match ODI series that should determine how strong the Indians are at both formats.