Hardik Pandya will be expected to begin his full-time T20 captaincy on a daring note as the Indian T20 team prepares to begin life without Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and KL Rahul in the three-match series against Sri Lanka commencing on Tuesday.
Indian cricket fans saw more than a peek of Hardik’s vision for the team when he led the side to victory in the New Zealand T20 series despite the rain.
In the year of the ODI World Cup, the shortest format is not a priority for the Indian side, but this series will allow Hardik to begin preparations for the 2024 T20 World Cup.
India’s renowned top three — Rohit, Kohli, and Rahul — are not in the roster, and the team must prepare for life without them regardless of their T20 future.
In recent years, the problem with the current Indian Twenty20 team has been a marked lack of will and the capacity to play fearless cricket.
The concept of self-preservation at the expense of significant performance had long been detrimental to the squad, and perhaps the dismal performance at the T20 World Cup was the final straw.
Rishabh Pant was involved in a horrible automobile accident last week, and Ishan Kishan opened for the team in New Zealand. Pant was not selected for the Sri Lanka series, hence Kishan and Ruturaj Gaikwad will likely open in the first Twenty20 match at the high-scoring Wankhede Stadium.
Kishan and Gaikwad have been IPL stars for the past few years, and now is their true opportunity to shine without worrying about their position in the lineup.
With the next T20 World Cup at least 18 months away, the duo is expected to have ample playing time, despite the fact that there will be less than 15 T20 Internationals this year as ODIs take precedence.
Hardik also has access to Shubman Gill, who is yet to make his T20 debut, as an opening option.
At number three, the captain will rely on the world’s best batsman, Suryakumar Yadav. Hardik’s desire to have six bowling options in the playing eleven could result in Deepak Hooda starting Tuesday’s game.
The management must select between Sanju Samson and Rahul Tripathi, who is yet to earn a cap, for the lone position in the middle order. Tripathi has been warming the bench for some time and this could continue against Sri Lanka, although Samson could get the nod because to his experience.
Though uncapped Shivam Mavi and Mukesh Kumar have been named in the squad, Arshdeep Singh, Harshal Patel, and Umran Malik are the most likely fast-bowling combination.
With Washington Sundar and Axar Patel, India might also add more versatile players to its roster. Yuzvendra Chahal, a specialist spinner, is scheduled to play in the series opener.
The defending Asia Cup champion Sri Lanka will not be an easy opponent for India, even at their home stadium. Sri Lanka has honoured Avishka Fernando, Chamika Karunaratne, and Sadeera Samarawickrama for their stellar performances in the Lanka Premier League by selecting them for the India series.
Both Fernando and Karunaratne have returned and will attempt to make a significant contribution. Bhanuka Rajapaksa will be their most important middle-order hitter.
India: Hardik Pandya (captain), Ishan Kishan (wk), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shubman Gill, Suryakumar Yadav (VC), Deepak Hooda, Rahul Tripathi, Sanju Samson, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Arshdeep Singh, Harshal Patel, Umran Malik, Shivam Mavi, Mukesh Kumar.
Sri Lanka: Dasun Shanaka (C), Pathum Nissanka, Avishka Fernando, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Kusal Mendis (VC for ODIs), Bhanuka Rajapaksa (only for T20Is), Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Wanindu Hasaranga (VC for T20Is), Ashen Bandara, Maheesh Theekshana, Jeffrey Vandersay (only for ODIs), Chamika Karunaratne, Dilshan Madushanka, Kasun Rajitha, Nuwanidu Fernando (only for ODIs), Dunith Wellalage, Pramod Madushan, Lahiru Kumara, Nuwan Thushara (only for T20Is).