After a dream 3-0 whitewash of Australia, India will aim to build continue their upward momentum ahead of the World Twenty20 when hosting Sri Lanka over a three-match series in cricket’s shortest format. Following a poor run of results in limited-overs cricket, India secured their first ever clean sweep of a series in Australia to surely leave confidence sky high ahead of the T20 version of the World Cup, which begins in India next month.
A seven-wicket victory in Sydney on Sunday also took India to the top of the T20 rankings. With just the upcoming three-match series against Sri Lanka and the Asia Cup later this month, India will hope to remain on top when they attempt to add to their only World T20 title, won in the competition’s first edition, in 2007.
More than just the result of the series in Australia, though, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has pointed to the discovery of new talent as the major takeaway. And top of the list was young pace bowler Jasprit Bumrah. After taking two wickets on debut in India’s consolation 50-over victory over Australia, the 22-year-old then added six more in the Twenty20 international series.
“I’m happy, at the end of the day, we have won and it’s a comprehensive victory,” Dhoni said after Sunday’s victory. “Winning 3-0 against Australia in Australia is always a big one. But it is more about how the team is looking rather than just looking it as a captain that we have won a series over here.
“But what’s more is important to look at the bigger picture. What looks good is Bumrah as a potential player; he’s somebody who is looking very good. Even today he bowled the yorkers really well.”
The star of the series with the bat was far less of a surprise. Having fired two centuries and two fifties in the ODI series, Virat Kohli continued his sensational form by firing 199 runs in the three T20I contests. However, the India Test captain will not feature in the Sri Lanka series, having been rested ahead of the Asian Cup, which starts on Feb. 24 and will see India square off with Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka as well as a qualifier yet to be determined.
In his place will step Manish Pandey, a middle-order batsman who scored a century in the final ODI in Australia but was left off the T20 squad. Also joining up with the party to take on Sri Lanka will be Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has recovered from a fractured thumb that forced him to miss the three 20-over matches Down Under. And there will be a first call-up for 23-year-old spinner Pawan Negi. Making way, along with Kohli, are all-rounders Gurkeerat Singh Mann and Rishi Dhawan, as well as pace bowler Umesh Yadav.
Those players included are set to be given a stiff test in the series. Sri Lanka have reached the final of three of the five World T20s, winning last time out in 2014. And they currently sit third in the ICC rankings, narrowly behind India and the West Indies.
India squad for T20I series with Sri Lanka
MS Dhoni (captain, wicketkeeper), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Manish Pandey, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra, Harbhajan Singh, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Pawan Negi.
Series schedule (all matches start at 9 a.m. EST)
1st T20I: Tuesday, Feb. 9, at Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune
2nd T20I: Friday, Feb. 12, at Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi
3rd T20I: Sunday, Feb. 14, at Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium, Visakhapatnam