Preview: India and Sri Lanka look to turn around fortunes before Commonwealth Games

India face Sri Lanka in a three-match T20I series. © Getty Images

With the Commonwealth Games little over a month away and the next T20 World Cup less than a year from now, India take on hosts Sri Lanka in a T20I series starting on Thursday in Dambulla.

What’s at stake?

Both India and Sri Lanka have not played a lot of cricket in the shortest format since the T20 World Cup in 2020 in Australia. India were the losing finalists in that tournament, while Sri Lanka failed to make it out of the group stages.

Sri Lanka have played seven T20Is since then, winning four and losing three. India, on the other hand, have had a really difficult time, winning only two and losing seven of the ten matches they have played since that daring run to the final at the MCG.

Sri Lanka were comprehensively outplayed and blanked 3-0 by Pakistan in their series which concluded last month. India have only played a one-off T20I against New Zealand this year, a match that they went on to lose.

The series also sees Jemimah Rodrigues return to India’s team after being omitted from the squad for the ODI World Cup earlier this year. Sri Lanka have also named a new-look 19 member squad, which has a younger look to it.

Players to watch out for:

Harmanpreet Kaur: India’s long-term T20I captain has now taken charge of the ODI team too after Mithali Raj announced her retirement earlier this month. She enters the series on the back of a sizzling run of form. She was one of India’s standout players in a tough World Cup campaign earlier this year and then backed up that showing by guiding the Supernovas to a win in the Women’s T20 Challenge in May. She might also have to bowl a lot more as she’s the only all-rounder among India’s top six and her faster off breaks might be tough to handle on a pitch that traditionally has something in it for the spinners.

Chamari Athapaththu: Sri Lanka won only one of their six matches on the Pakistan tour and that win came on the back of a century from Athapaththu’s bat in the final ODI of the series. She struggled in the T20I against Pakistan but was in scintillating form in the FairBreak Invitational tournament earlier this year, where she recorded the first-ever century of the tournament. One of the many allrounders in the team, Athapaththu might also have to bowl a fair bit against a power-packed Indian team.

What they said:

“As far as pace bowling is concerned, you’ve seen from the Australia tour, we’ve introduced Renuka and Meghna, we introduced a few bowlers in the system as well. So, it will take a little time to see the results because they have to address their fitness and match experience. So, whichever bowlers are there – we are carrying four fast bowlers – you will see results from them.”

– India’s coach Ramesh Powar is not worried about the inexperience in India’s pace outfit

“Vishmi Gunaratne is an upcoming cricketer. She’s still very young and a schoolgirl but she has been doing really well domestically. I’m looking forward to seeing her best performance in this series.”

Chamari Athapaththu marks out Vishmi Gunaratne as a talent to watch out for

Numbers

  • Harmanpreet Kaur needs 46 runs to overtake Mithali Raj and become India’s leading run-scorer in T20Is.
  • India have never lost to Sri Lanka in T20Is played in Sri Lanka. They have won five of their previous six matches, with one being a no result.

Predicted XI

Both India and Sri Lanka have their full squads fit and available for selection. India’s captain Harmanpreet said the team will not look to experiment in the T20Is and field their first-choice XI in order to finalise the same for the Commonwealth Games as well. Sri Lanka might also opt to field their more experienced names in the opening match.

Sri Lanka: Hasini Perera, 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, Jemimah Rodrigues, S Meghana, Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Richa Ghosh (wk), Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar, Simran Dil Bahadur, Radha Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad