Come July, India will be featuring two different sides in two separate continents. With the Test team in the UK for the World Test Championship final, the white-ball fringe players will look to prove their mettle in Sri Lanka.
Here’s a look at what India’s ODI XI in Sri Lanka could look like.
Shikhar Dhawan (captain), Prithvi Shaw
Shikhar Dhawan, the third-highest ODI run-getter for India in the 2010s, will be the senior-most in terms of experience in Sri Lanka and is a definite pick. Also likely to captain the side, the 35-year-old has been particularly successful there, averaging 70.21 with four centuries.
Shaw’s ODI debut in New Zealand last year yielded only three games, but with most of the first-choice openers in England, he’s likely to find a spot up top. Shaw will walk into the side on the back of an impressive List A track record, including the recent Vijay Hazare Trophy where he averaged 165.40.
Suryakumar Yadav, Manish Pandey, Ishan Kishan (wicketkeeper), Hardik Pandya
Suryakumar Yadav might be known more for his T20 exploits, particularly the IPL, but he’s also built a solid List A resume over the years. Before his T20I debut earlier this year, Suryakumar was in fine form in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, including a 133-run blitz in 58 balls. At No.3, his expressive yet solid batting style would fit well.
Manish Pandey has been in and out of the team for a while now, but with India requiring some experience to hold the middle order together, he could be in for another comeback. In the past, Pandey has been guilty of losing his way often after a good start, but someone who can steadily collect runs and change gears when required.
With Rishabh Pant away, this could be the much-awaited chance for Ishan Kishan to break into the ODI side. An attacking batsman who can direct the state of play, wicketkeeper Kishan is also quick and athletic behind the stumps. With a best of 173 in List A and 273 in first-class cricket, Kishan has shown in the past that he’s not just about the quick cameos.
Hardik Pandya gives the middle order some much-needed firepower. In the series against Australia, he showcased his finishing skills with a couple of stunning 90s. While his bowling fitness is still a question mark, Pandya is expected to be a crucial weapon for India’s T20 World Cup campaign and will be itching for as much white-ball practice as possible.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Kuldeep Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Yuzvendra Chahal
Bhuvneshwar Kumar might have slipped a run or two in India’s seam-bowling order owing to injuries, but returned to old ways in the recent England series, exhibiting tremendous control and skill in a run-heavy series. His economy of 4.66 was by far the best among all bowlers, and in a relatively young attack, his experience would hold the team in good stead.
It’s not easy being Kuldeep Yadav at the moment, given his distinct lack of form and confidence, but the low-key series could be vital in putting him back into the reckoning. A match-winner on his day, Kuldeep has two ODI hat-tricks to his name, but has played just four games since February 2020.
One-half of the ‘KulCha’ spin combination, Yuzvendra Chahal, too, has had a bumpy ride of late, but is still one of the finest leg-spinners in the country. Last year, he took twin three-wicket hauls in New Zealand, but appeared jaded on Australian soil, managing figures of 1-89 and 0-71 in two games. With new spinners emerging, Chahal would be hoping to capitalise on any opportunity that comes his way.
Over the last two years, Navdeep Saini has impressed one and all with his out-and-out pace, even though he’s been found to be erratic at times. With a mix of young and old travelling to the UK, Saini could get a chance to make a mark in a format he’s been on and off a part of. Worryingly, though, he has only one wicket in his last four ODIs.
Deepak Chahar has been a regular in T20Is, but hasn’t yet been able to seal a spot in the one-day format, given the plethora of fast bowling options available. With the white new ball though, he can be devastating, given the early swing he imparts and the accuracy he hits despite the movement.
India’s predicted XI
Shikhar Dhawan (c), Prithvi Shaw, Suryakumar Yadav, Manish Pandey, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Kuldeep Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Yuzvendra Chahal
Shreyas Iyer and T Natarajan, who are currently recovering from injuries, have not been considered here.
Other options: Krunal Pandya, Sanju Samson, Rahul Chahar, Vijay Shankar, Harshal Patel, Khaleel Ahmed
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