India vs Sri Lanka ODI series is all set to begin from 20th August at Dambulla and after whitewashing the hosts in the Tests without breaking a sweat, Virat Kohli and his squad will be looking to shut every critic who has been questioning the team’s limited overs potential.
While Indian selectors have rested several high-profile cricketers for the India vs Sri Lanka ODI series and is considering the limited-overs leg as a practice session for the youngsters, it is still expected to be a lackluster clash as Sri Lanka is struggling in all departments and it is highly unlikely that they will be able to give a complete performance.
The Virat Kohli-led side is in great form as of now and despite Sri Lanka having an unexpected success at the 2017 Champions Trophy which was the last ODI meeting between the two teams, the India vs Sri Lanka ODI series has been envisioned to be a one-sided fixture in favor of the visitors.
However, the 5-Match India vs Sri Lanka ODI series is an important assignment for the squad as the preparations for the 2019 World Cup have begun and Ravi Shastri, along with the selectors, will be keeping an eye for future selections, and will also be looking forward to experimenting in the playing XI. That being said, the question about some senior players’ future is also on the line and it will be a great opportunity for them to get some numbers under their belt to gain the needed confidence.
On that note, here are some areas where the visitors will have to focus on, during the India vs Sri Lanka ODI series.
1. The Opening Pair
Virat Kohli has been performing exceptionally well at No.3 but the skipper, as well as the whole middle order, needs some backing from the openers. While Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan have proved their mettle as the openers and have been the first choice of the selectors, the likes of Ajinkya Rahane and KL Rahul have suffered the wrath of a full bench.
In the absence of either of the preferred openers, Rahane has proved his worth and has improved in the last one year as a dependable as well as settled batsman in Tests, however, he still struggles to find a way to the ODI playing XI.
As for KL Rahul, the current batting sensation who has performed in all the three formats, has recorded nine consecutive fifties in Tests and making him watch the game from the bench will be one of the biggest mistakes by the selectors.
During the India vs Sri Lanka ODI series, the team will have enough scope to test their capabilities at different positions and find a spot for them in the squad.
2. MS Dhoni’s Future
With the 2019 World Cup being the centre stage, MS Dhoni’s form is a pressing issue for the Indian team and moreover, the former skipper is known to make sudden and shocking announcement regarding his future with the team but this time around, Indian selectors will have to work day in day out to arrive at a concrete report to clear all the doubts about his current form.
MS Dhoni is the most cherished cricketer of his era but he is going through a rough patch and it has been more than evident that his batting prowess has taken a hit and as a wicketkeeper, he has also lost just a little bit of flair. However, he still remains a force to reckon with in India’s middle order and since his mere presence terrifies a bowler, the India vs Sri Lanka series will be a great opportunity for him to get some runs on his bat and regain the lost form.
3. Test Of India’s Middle Order In Yuvraj’s Absence.
The inconsistent middle order has been a reason for concern for the Indian team as we have seen it collapse at several occasions, especially when the top three failed to give a good start to the innings.
While Ambati Rayudu has failed to deliver, we can’t expect Wriddhiman Saha and Hardik Pandya to lead by example so soon. Moreover, the likes of Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh are also struggling with their fitness and form.
When MS Dhoni’s mercurial form added to the horrors of the middle order, there came a calling for Yuvraj Singh, who has been the backbone of the Indian team for a long time. But his comeback has not been the smoothest one as he too failed to deliver in the ICC Champions Trophy as well as the West Indies tour.
Keeping that in mind, Manish Pandey has been called for the International squad for the India vs Sri Lanka ODI series but there are a lot of loose strings in the inexperienced middle order and it remains to be seen how this gamble plays for the Virat Kohli-led team.
4. Test For A New Seamers-Combo
Resting Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami was a decision well taken by the selectors as for the next couple of years, India is going to play of a lot of overseas cricket and for that, the team requires three genuine pacers.
As for the India vs Sri Lanka series, Bhuvneshwar Kumar will get a chance to let his fingers grip the whole ball and for a seamer, who started as a swing-only bowler, this is a great opportunity to become a dominant force in death overs in limited overs, as well.
Shardul Thakur, on the other hand, with his swift bowling action as well as control over variations have already earned him huge appreciation in domestic cricket and the India vs Sri Lanka ODI series is the perfect stage for him to check where he stands in international cricket.
5. Choosing The Right Spin Combinations.
As far as Test cricket is concerned, India currently has the best spinning combo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, however, the two have failed to perform in recent ODI outings, ICC Champions Trophy being their most prominent failure. Using them as stock bowlers might be a reason behind this, however, but both have looked rusty, while leaking important runs at crucial stages, as well.
With the 2019 World Cup coming up, team India is in need of wicket-taking bowlers who are not afraid of getting smashed for runs, and having the options of Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, and Yuzvendra Chahal, the selectors might be able to decipher a bowler combo that always goes for wickets.
Chahal being a leg spinner and Yadav with his chinaman bowling will be in the spotlight during the India vs Sri Lanka series, however, Axar Patel’s ODI experience will also help team India to get through this hurdle.
With Sri Lanka’s continuing to struggle in all formats of the game, team India will have all the space to give the youngsters a platform to prove their mettle while players like MS Dhoni will have the opportunity to regain their lost vigor.
The India vs Sri Lanka ODI series is not going to be a dead rubber like the Test fixtures, however, it remains to be seen how well they perform against the second string players.