India Predicted XI: Virat Kohli to make a crucial change for 3rd T20I against Sri Lanka at Pune
India will look to keep their impressive record intact and seal the series when they face Sri Lanka in the third and final T20I at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune on Friday. After the first match in Guwahati was a washout, the Virat Kohli-led side took a 1-0 lead by beating Sri Lanka comprehensively in the 2nd T20I at Indore by 7 wickets. India have won 9 of their last 10 T20Is (not including washouts/ no results) against Sri Lanka, making them firm favourites to take the series 2-0 in Pune. The record in Pune, however, is slightly in favour of the visitors. The only time India lost to Sri Lanka in the last 10 encounters was in Pune in 2017. India would hope that the same is not repeated on Friday.
India fielded the same playing XI in the first two matches – Only the toss took place in the first match – but chances are that Kohli might bring in a tactical change for the series decider.
Here’s India’s predicted XI for the 3rd T20I against Sri Lanka at Pune:
KL Rahul has been in red-hot form in white-ball cricket, scoring 62, 11, 91 and 45 in his last four T20I innings. In Indore, Chasing 143 for victory, Rahul gave India a fantastic start by scoring at a brisk pace in the powerplay. Rahul took the attack to the Sri Lanka bowlers right at the beginning to push them on the backfoot. The right-hander top-scored for India with a 32-ball 45, helping the hosts win the match by 7 wickets.
The southpaw, who made a comeback to the Indian side after an injury lay-off, did look rusty in Indore but as pointed out by former India cricketer Gautam Gambhir, it was important that Dhawan spent quality time in the middle. Dhawan, who scored 32 off 30 balls in the 2nd T20I, would hope to improve his strike rate in the 3rd T20I at Pune.
The India captain scored an unbeaten 30 in Indore and even then he registered two milestones – becoming the highest run-getter in T20Is and the fastest to reach 1000 T20I runs as captain. Kohli would look to keep the performance going in Pune.
Shreyas Iyer has fast emerged as one of India’s best answers to the No.4 conundrum. Iyer, who was promoted to bat at No.3 on Tuesday, scored a free-flowing 26-ball 34 as India chased down Sri Lanka’s 143-run target with 7 wickets and 15 balls to spare. Iyer hit 3 boundaries and a six before holing out at deep square-leg.
Indore was one of those rare occasions when Rishabh Pant was neither praised nor trolled on social media. The wicket-keeper batsman, who is constantly under scrutiny, should not really mind that at all.
This could perhaps be the only change in India’s playing XI in Pune. Jadeja, who missed out on the previous two matches, could come into side purely because of experience in crunch matches. That India have decided to go in with six bowling options keeping the dew in mind, makes Jadeja’s inclusion even more logical in place of young Shivam Dube, who did not bowl a single over in the 2nd T20I.
Sundar was simply brilliant in the 2nd T20I Indore. He not only gave India the first breakthrough but also tied the down the likes of Kusal Perera in the middle overs to help the seamers go about their business. Sundar finished with 1 for 29 in his 4 overs despite there being some amount of dew in the outfield. Sundar can also be a handy batsman at No.7 for India.
In Indore, Kuldeep did exactly what is expected from him - that is to pick up wickets. He was hit for a couple of sixes but he picked up two wickets including that of danger-man Kusal Perera to stop Sri Lanka on their tracks. The left-arm wrist-spinner is in straight competition with leggie Yuzvendra Chahal and he would like to make the most of the chances he gets before the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year.
In a game where all focus was on Jasprit Bumrah’s injury comeback, Thakur took three wickets—all in one over—to set up India’s seven-wicket win. He bowled a fine spell, giving away only 23 runs while producing his variations—from short ball to knuckle ball to slower ones.
He bowled with pace, he landed the yorkers, he pushed the batsmen on the backfoot and also used the slower ones to good effect – all in all the Indore T20I was an ideal match for Navdeep Saini. He was also adjudged the player of the match for his 2 for 18.
It was a mixed bag for Jasprit Bumrah on his return from an injury lay-off. He did look impressive in patches but also deviated from line on a few occasions. That he went for 12 runs from Sri Lanka’s No. 9 in the last over, would definitely be on the back of Jasprit Bumrah’s mind.