India vs Sri Lanka: India's white-ball rookies start Lankan audition for vacant T20 World Cup slots
Some of these players are T20 regulars and while the 50-over format is of lesser importance going into the global event in three months' time, both Dravid and Dhawan know the importance of game-time
A bunch of fresh faces will be desperate for a fair T20 World Cup audition when India's different-looking yet formidable white-ball squad faces an under-fire Sri Lanka in the six-match limited-overs contest, beginning with the first ODI here on Sunday.
Winning any international series will be paramount but one can expect a few combinations being tried out during a series which got delayed by five days due to Covid-19 scare in the Sri Lankan camp. The series comprises three ODIs and as many T20Is.
Dasun Shanaka is Sri Lanka's 10th captain in four years and barring a classy batsman like Dhananjaya de Silva and a steady pacer in Dishmantha Chameera, this team lacks quality to challenge the might of Indian team led by Shikhar Dhawan.
The suspension of Kusal Mendis and Niroshan Dickwella due to bio-bubble breach in UK, along with injury to former skipper Kusal Perera, puts Sri Lanka in a tight spot. If they can manage to win one game, that will be an achievement in itself after a disastrous tour of England.
Expect Prithvi Shaw, Vijay Hazare Trophy's top scorer to open alongside Dhawan, while seniors Hardik Pandya and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are expected to find automatic slots in the playing XI.
However, there are multiple contender for other slots.
Will it be Devdutt Padikkal or Ruturaj Gaikwad at No. 3? Will Suryakumar Yadav's 360-degree hitting ability be used or Manish Pandey get a final chance to show some consistency?
Will Krishnappa Gowtham's off-spin and big hits be preferred over Krunal Pandya's left-arm darts along with cheeky batting skills? How is Rahul Chahar placed against Yuzvendra Chahal, who hasn't been in best of forms of late?
And who will don the big gloves? Is it Rahul Dravid's protege Sanju Samson or the mercurial Mumbai Indians' man Ishan Kishan, who can really pack a punch?
These are the questions that need to be answered by the team management during the next 11 days in Colombo.
India's bench strength has been a matter of envy for all top cricketing nations and has allowed two national teams to compete in different parts of the globe in Covid times.
While Virat Kohli's men are keen to set their dismal Test record in England straight, the team led by Dhawan and coached by Dravid -- the man responsible for creating the pool, will never accept that this is a "second string" outfit taking on islanders, who are going through their lowest ebb.
A team that has Dhawan and Shaw at the top, along with the likes of Pandey, Suryakumar, Pandya brothers Hardik and Krunal, seasoned Bhuvneshwar and Deepak Chahar besides spin twins Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, can be anything but pushovers.
Some of these players are T20 regulars and while the 50-over format is of lesser importance going into the global event in three months' time, both Dravid and Dhawan know the importance of game-time.
While there are six uncapped players in this Indian line-up, Dravid had recently made it clear that it will be difficult to provide game-time to all the available payers.
It is expected that both Dravid and Dhawan would be consulting with Ravi Shastri and Kohli on what they would be looking for from the assortment of players available with them.
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