India are the firm favorites heading into the first ODI against Sri Lanka at Dambulla on Sunday. The visiting side are coming off the back of a crushing victory in the Test series in which they whitewashed the hosts 3-0. India outplayed them in all three departments and they will look to do so again in the limited overs contest. Sri Lanka, however, emerged victorious the last time the two sides met, which was in the Champions Trophy earlier this year. Complacency could be a risk for the tourists, especially with Sri Lanka hampered by injuries to Nuwan Pradeep and Asela Gunaratne, who suffered hamstring and thumb injuries respectively. Both sides have made extensive changes to their ODI squads and Sunday’s clash promises to be a thrilling affair as a lot of young talent will be on display.
Complacency could be a risk for the tourists, especially with Sri Lanka hampered by injuries to Nuwan Pradeep and Asela Gunaratne, who suffered hamstring and thumb injuries respectively. Both sides have made extensive changes to their ODI squads and Sunday’s clash promises to be a thrilling affair as a lot of young talent will be on display.
The Changes To India’s ODI Squad
It’s clear that the Indian selectors are looking ahead to the 2019 World Cup as they included some relatively inexperienced players in their squad. Four of the seven changes India made can be put down to resting key bowlers who have had a very busy year so far. India’s frontline spinners, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, have both been rested, paving the way for Yuzvendra Chahal and Axar Patel to be recalled back into the squad. Patel was actually included in India’s Test squad for the final Test, but Kuldeep Yadav was selected ahead of him, a move which ultimately paid off for India as he took five wickets in the Test. With Chahal being in better form than Patel, it could be the case that the Gujrati spinner finds himself struggling to get a game on this tour, as India look set to pick Kuldeep and Chahal.
Seamers Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav were also given a well-deserved rest after they bowled admirably on some very flat pitches. It was hardly surprising to see white ball specialist Jaspirit Bumrah back in the squad, as he has been a key part of India’s limited overs plans for a while now, and he is expected to walk straight into the starting XI on Sunday. Shardul Thakur was the other seamer called up, and he has always been on the fringes of the India international set up. Despite being included in their squad on numerous occasions, Thakur is yet to make his debut and may still have to wait slightly longer. India
Shardul Thakur was the other seamer called up, and he has always been on the fringes of the India international set up. Despite being included in their squad on numerous occasions, Thakur is yet to make his debut and may still have to wait slightly longer. India are likely to play three seamers in the form of all-rounder Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jaspirit Bumrah, and Thakur would struggle to displace any of them from the team. The only chance he’ll have of playing is if India look to rotate players and give them experience for the 2019 World Cup.
The real shocks in India’s squad came in the form of their batting. Veterans Yuvraj Singh and Dinesh Kartik were both dropped, along with young keeper Rishabh Pant, as the selectors opted for Rohit Sharma and Lokesh Rahul. The incoming batsmen both missed India’s last limited overs series through injury and are set to provide a huge boost to their top order, throwing the opening spot wide open again. India’s middle order is set to be redefined as Manish Pandey has been called up in place of Yuvraj and he could be starting for them on a regular basis.
The Opening Dilemma
Now that Rohit Sharma and Lokesh Rahul are back from injury, the question of who should open for India has been thrown wide open again. Shikhar Dhawan, the in-form batsman, is likely to retain his spot at the top of the order due to his phenomenal recent performances. He was awarded the title of “man of the series” after scoring 358 runs in just four innings in the Test matches against Sri Lanka.
In terms of his ODI cricket, Dhawan had a relatively successful tour of the West Indies in which he scored two fifties in his first two games, building on his form from the Champions Trophy. During India’s trip to the Caribbean, Dhawan opened with Ajinkya Rahane and it proved to be a great combination as the pair had two hundred-run stands in their first two games. However, it is likely that Rohit (recently named India’s ODI vice-captain) will partner Dhawan as India turn back to their most experience opening combination. There could be a chance, then, for Rahul to slot into their starting XI as a middle order batsman and Rahane would be omitted entirely.
Predicted Starting XI
- Shikhar Dhawan
- Rohit Sharma
- Virat Kohli (c)
- Lokesh Rahul
- MS Dhoni (wk)
- Manish Pandey
- Hardik Pandya
- Kuldeep Yadav
- Bhuvneshwar Kumar
- Yuzvendra Chahal
- Jaspirit Bumrah