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Sri Lanka T20 series perfect chance for India’s IPL-era players

The Indian cricket team will look to underline the depth of talent in the first of three T20 games against Sri Lanka to be played at Cuttack on Wednesday.

india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Dec 19, 2017 20:36 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Cuttack
India vs Sri Lanka,Dinesh Karthik,Thisara Perera
After winning the ODI series 2-1, the Indian cricket team will look to continue its good show in the three-T20 series against Sri Lanka, starting Wednesday in Cuttack.(PTI)

In a series where they haven’t played well long enough to keep the contest alive, Sri Lanka will hope to begin the T20 Internationals like they did the Tests and one-dayers. Cuttack could then witness an interesting evening of slam-bang cricket. (INDIA vs SRI LANKA FULL COVERAGE)

Also, the shorter the format the easier it is to bridge the gap between teams. That could be closed further if India bowl second and dew makes things difficult.

“We have good death bowlers, power hitters and players who can do the basics right. It is about flushing out all negatives and taking the positives from the first ODI,” said Sri Lanka skipper Thisara Perera. He felt a score of “150 plus” on a ground which has seen no Ranji Trophy cricket this season could be decisive.

(Read | KL Rahul the main option to open with Rohit Sharma in Sri Lanka Twenty20s)

BIG OPPORTUNITY

These three T20Is are also a chance for some players to get noticed in an India blue.

“This is a great opportunity… For a lot of them, this is the first time they are in the India team. I am very confident they will make the best use of chances given to them,” said Dinesh Karthik.

(Read | Dominant India enjoy best year in ODIs in 2017, tougher quests ahead)

Karthik, 32, played his first T20 International in 2006 when Washington Sundar was seven, Deepak Hooda 11 and Basil Thampi 13. Shreyas Iyer, who along with Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah, skipped the optional training session at Barabati Stadium here on Tuesday, too is cutting his teeth in international cricket and pacer Mohammed Siraj is one match old. Given the kind of year he has had, it is often overlooked that Kuldeep Yadav is 23.

IPL EFFECT

But cricket in India has now come to be defined in pre- and post-IPL eras. Karthik’s T20I debut predated officially accepted franchise cricket by approximately 16 months; Hooda, Thampi and Sundar, first-timers in this squad, are its products.

(Read | Babar Azam quashes comparison with ‘big player’ Virat Kohli)

“Coming into the India set-up, they are not as perturbed as players before them because they have played a lot of IPL games,” said Karthik.

This series is also a chance for others to force into the core India set-up, such as Jaydev Unadkat.

Still only 26, Unadkat played his only Test in 2010, his last ODI in 2013 and T20I in 2016.

The left-arm pacer though has done the IPL circuit -- Wasim Akram had a lot of time for him and that alone says a lot about this bowler from Saurashtra -- where he had a good 10th edition taking 24 wickets, including 2/19 in four overs in the final, and doing well as a death bowler.

(Read | Cheteshwar Pujara grabs third spot in latest ICC Test Player Rankings)

Like Unadkat, Manish Pandey and Karthik too can use this series to ensure they don’t flit in and out of the national set-up.

India have won four of the last five T20Is against Sri Lanka. Skipper Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni, Pandya and Bumrah are the only ones here who played the last time India lost to Sri Lanka, in February 2016. India are fifth in the T20I rankings while Sri Lanka are eight.

The setting thus is perfect for experiment. After all, as Karthik said: “This team has reached a stage where no matter whom we are playing; we are a very strong side.”

Exactly what Cuttack --- the excitement at this game was evident from the thousands who fetched up to see India train – would want to see.

First Published: Dec 19, 2017 18:58 IST