IND vs SL 2022-23, 1st T20I: Team India prepares to usher new era under Hardik Pandya
IND vs SL 2022-23: India and Sri Lanka lock horns in the opening T20I in Mumbai on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the hosts would bid to begin a new era under Hardik Pandya without the 'big three' involvement.
All-rounder and new Twenty20 International (T20I) Hardik Pandya will be expected to begin his full-time T20 captaincy tenure on a bold note. The Indian T20 team is preparing to start its life beyond Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul with the three-match series against Sri Lanka, beginning at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Tuesday. The followers of Indian cricket got more than a glimpse of Hardik's vision for the team when he led the team to victory in the rain-hit T20 series in New Zealand. In an ICC World Cup year, the shortest format is not the priority for the Indian team. Still, the series will allow Hardik to start planning for the future, specifically the 2024 ICC T20 World Cup in the West Indies and the United States of America (USA).
India's famed top three -- Rohit, Kohli and Rahul -- are not part of the squad, and irrespective of their T20 future, the team must prepare for life without them. The problem with the current Indian T20 team recently has been a distinct lack of intent and ability to play fearless cricket. The idea of self-preservation at the cost of impactful performance was hurting the team for a long time, and perhaps the poor show in the T20WC became the last straw.
Young wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant, who suffered a horrific car crash last week, opened for the team in New Zealand alongside wicketkeeper-opener Ishan Kishan. Pant was not picked for the Sri Lanka series, making Kishan and fellow opener Ruturaj Gaikwad's opening combination most likely for the first T20 at the high-scoring Wankhede Stadium.
Kishan and Gaikwad have been bonafide Indian Premier League (IPL) stars for the past few years. It is their real chance to show their wares without worrying about their place in the side. With the next T20WC at least 18 months, the duo is expected to get a fair run, although the number of T20Is this year is less than 15, with One-Day International (ODI) gaining more precedence.
Opener Shubman Gill, yet to make his T20I debut, is another opening option for Hardik. At number three, the skipper will rely on the brilliance of the world's No. 1 batter Suryakumar Yadav. With Hardik keen to have six bowling options in the playing eleven, all-rounder Deepak Hooda could be a likely starter for Tuesday's game.
The management must choose between keeper-opener Sanju Samson and uncapped opener Rahul Tripathi for the one spot in the middle order. Tripathi has been warming the bench for a while now, and it could continue against Sri Lanka, but Samson, on account of experience, should get the first go.
Though uncapped pacers Shivam Mavi and Mukesh Kumar have been included in the squad, the likely pace bowling trio will be Arshdeep Singh, Harshal Patel and Umran Malik. India could also pack in more all-rounders in the team with the option of all-rounders Washington Sundar and Axar Patel. Specialist spinner Yuzvendra Chahal is expected to play in the series opener.
Reigning Asia Cup champions Sri Lanka will be no pushovers for India, even in their conditions. Sri Lanka has rewarded the star performers of the Lanka Premier League (LPL) -- Avishka Fernando, Chamika Karunaratne and Sadeera Samarawickrama -- by including them in the team for the India series. Fernando and Karunaratne have made a comeback and will be looking to make an impactful contribution. Bhanuka Rajapaksa will be their crucial batter in the middle order.
Date and day: January 3, 2023 (Tuesday)
Venue: Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
Time: 7.00 PM (IST)
Where to watch (TV): Star Sports 1 and other Star Sports regional language channels - Also available in HD
Where to watch (Online): Hotstar
(With inputs from PTI)