India in Sri Lanka: India firm favourites to clinch T20I series against struggling hosts

India firm favourites to clinch series © Sri Lanka Cricket

Despite not being at their best, India managed to easily beat Sri Lanka in the first match of the tour on Thursday (June 23) to take 1-0 lead in the three-match T20I series in Dambulla. Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma were the stars for India along with left-arm spinner Radha Yadav, while Inoka Ranaweera and Oshadi Ranasinghe were impressive with the ball for the hosts.

Neither of the teams has much of a turnaround time with the second T20I scheduled to be played on Saturday. India will look to iron out their flaws from the scratchy opening encounter, while Sri Lanka will be hoping to put up a better fight.

What’s at stake

Unlike the ODIs, which are part of the ICC Women’s Championship for the 2022-25 cycle, there is nothing much at stake immediately as far as T20Is are concerned. But both the teams will be aware of the fact that they won’t be playing any other internationals in the format as part of the preparation for the Commonwealth Games 2022 that’s scheduled to start in just over a month.

Despite these games being played in a vastly different conditions, both India and Sri Lanka will look to finalise – something that India head coach alluded to in the lead up to the tour – their playing XIs for the coveted event in Birmingham.

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As far as the second T20I is concerned, India will once again start as outright favourites, but their batters will be vary of the threat Sri Lanka’s spinners possess. The hosts had India under pressure at various times before getting it all wrong in the final over of their bowling effort. But it’s the batting that has been their Achilles heel for a long time now.

Players to watch out for:

Smriti Mandhana: The southpaw has struggled against Sri Lanka historically and her numbers in Sri Lanka are outrightly bad. Mandhana has only managed 12 runs from five innings at an average of 2.40 and strike rate of 57.14. Her battles against off spinners are also well documented. But the 25-year-old is too good a player to be kept under the leash for too long.

Mandhana will be looking to start cautiously with the intention of batting through the innings and then let her natural flair take care of the scoring rate.

Kavisha Dilhari: The allrounder was one of the bright spots for Sri Lanka during the otherwise disappointing Pakistan tour. Dilhari had a good time with the bat in the ODIs, and also showed promise with the ball.

The 21-year-old took that confidence from the Pakistan series and made her career-best score of 47 not out even as others put on a dismal batting performance around her. Although her bowling is still a work in progress, the off-spinner gave away 20 runs in the last over of the innings, Dilhari will be crucial for Sri Lanka as they look to build a team towards future with other youngsters like Harshitha Madavi and teenage prodigy Vishmi Gunaratne.

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Numbers

  • Jemimah Rodrigues has great numbers against Sri Lanka and has made 242 runs from six innings at a whopping average of 80.66 and an incredible strike rate of 146.66.
  • Chamari Athapaththu has never scored a T20I fifty at home in the 30 innings she played in the country. She has managed 428 runs at 14.75 average and 90.29 strike rate from these matches with best of 43.

Predicted XI

Considering the Indian team management will be looking to give their first choice XI enough chances, it’s unlikely that they will make any changes. It remains to be seen if India will bring in one of Simran Dil Bahadur or Meghna Singh in place of Renuka Singh Thakur if they are thinking of giving everyone a look in.

Despite the loss, Sri Lanka will be better served if they stick to young Gunaratne as the opener having just replaced Hasini Perera. They might make a few changes considering they have lost their last four T20Is, but ideally they should persist with the same playing XI.

Sri Lanka: Vishmi Gunaratne, Chamari Athapaththu (c), Nilakshi de Silva, Oshadi Ranasinghe, Harshitha Madavi, Kavisha Dilhari, Ama Kanchana, Anushka Sanjeewani (wk), Sugandika Kumari, Inoka Ranaweera, Udeshika Prabodhani

India: Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, S Meghana, Jemimah Rodrigues, , Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Richa Ghosh (wk), Pooja Vastrakar, Deepti Sharma, Radha Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Renuka Singh Thakur