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Nidahas Trophy 2018: New-look India aim to sustain T20 dominance

The Indian cricket team, under stand-in captain Rohit Sharma and with five new players, will be determined to maintain their T20 dominance in the 2018 Nidahas Trophy tri-series vs Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

cricket Updated: Mar 05, 2018 22:21 IST
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Hindustan Times, Colombo
Nidahas Trophy 2018,India vs Sri Lanka,Indian cricket team
India's captain Rohit Sharma (2R) participates in a fielding practice session ahead of the tri-nation Twenty20 cricket series in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Monday, March 5, 2018. The Twenty20 tri-series that features Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka begins on March 6. (AP)

The Indian squad for the 2018 Nidahas Trophy Twenty20 tri-series, also featuring Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, features seven players who have played less than 10 T20 Internationals.

The other two teams will thus fancy their chances of getting the better of the inexperienced Rohit Sharma-led Indian cricket team.

However, such has been the dominance of India in T20s that Sri Lanka coach Chandika Hathurusingha, slightly worried, designated them title favourites during the practice session.

Hathurusingha’s words sum up two things. India are formidable even without the big players and that the hosts are scarred from their recent encounters against India.

India have lost only one series in 2017, which was against West Indies. Against Sri Lanka, they have won six consecutive games while at the R Premadasa stadium, the venue for the tournament, they have never been beaten by Sri Lanka.

Chance for youth

While Sri Lanka only had an optional practice session, India trained with intent. Spinners Washington Sundar and Axar Patel bowled at the nets for close to 40 minutes. Even more surprising was all-rounder Vijay Shankar bowling his medium-pace to Rohit Sharma for 30 minutes.

The likes of Deepak Hooda, Mohammed Siraj and Rishabh Pant did not practice much, and that seemed to indicate that India could go in with a bowling line-up of Shankar, Axar and Sundar along with Shardul Thakur and Yuzvendra Chahal.

However, India’s key strength remains batting. Rohit, who had a poor T20 series against South Africa, will be eager to regain his scoring touch in flat conditions while Shikhar Dhawan will be aiming to maintain his great form. Suresh Raina and Manish Pandey, who both chipped in with vital knocks in South Africa, will again be the key in the middle order.

Sri Lanka’s Premadasa record

The R Premadasa stadium has not been a lucky ground for the hosts, who have lost 12 out of 14 games. Under new coach Chandika Hathurusingha, the team is slowly seeing a revival as evident by their wins in the recent series in Bangladesh.

With Angelo Mathews missing the tournament due to injury, the team will be led by Test skipper Dinesh Chandimal. Sri Lanka’s batting will rest on the skipper and Kusal Mendis, who scored two fifties in the win over Bangladesh recently.

With the side consisting of several players who can contribute with bat and ball like Dasun Shanaka, Jeevan Mendis and the aggressive Thisara Perera, Sri Lanka will be hopeful they can snap their losing streak against India.

Bangladesh will have their task cut out, especially in the absence of the injured Shakib Al Hasan.

First Published: Mar 05, 2018 18:07 IST