Cricket

India eyeing to test bench strength ahead of South Africa series

[caption id="attachment_60002" align="aligncenter" width="580"]India India to face Sri Lanka in the first T20I tomorrow at Cuttack. File Pic[/caption]

Internet Desk: The Men in Blue are expected to test their bench strength ahead of facing South Africa at their own back-yard when they will face Sri Lanka in the first of three-match T20I series on Wednesday at Cuttack.

After winning the Test series, the Indian cricket team also bagged the ODI series 2-1 without their regular skipper Virat Kohli. Now Rohit Sharma led team would be eyeing to end the series on a high by clinching the T20I series too.

After India beat Sri Lanka in the second ODI at Mohali to level the series, the Lankans had their moments in Visakhapatnam during the decider where at one stage they were at 136 for 1 but after that the Lankans fell like a pack of cards and got all out on 215.

A resilient India quickly got into the act after an inspirational stumping by MS Dhoni. This was followed by the spin twin of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal running through the Lankan batting to claim three wickets each.

However, Twenty20 is a different ball game and India would look for a smooth transition to the shortest format, having endured a batting disaster in the first one-dayer.

India do not have happy memories of the solitary T20I at the Barabati Stadium despite the fact that they lead Sri Lanka 7-4 on head-to-head count and are yet to lose against them in the last four outings.

India had folded for 92 against South Africa in the lone T20I played here in 2015 as crowd trouble brought infamy to the venue and the hosts would look to give a better account of their batting tomorrow.

India's batting will heavily rely on skipper Sharma, who will have KL Rahul for company at the top.

Having lost his first match as captain, Sharma's record double hundred led a 141-run rout in Mohali and he will look to continue that form in the shortest format.

A good start will be crucial for India to minimise the workload on the middle and lower order, which will be steered by Dhoni whose ability was doubted in the series against New Zealand.

In the pace department, death bowling specialist Jasprit Bumrah will shoulder the responsibility after Bhuvneshwar Kumar was rested.

Kerala pacer Thampi has shown his ability to bowl yorkers with consistency during his Gujarat Lions stint in the IPL.

While India will have a bit of concern in the pace department, Yadav and Chahal are expected to deliver.

Squads:

India: Rohit Sharma (C), K L Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Siraj, Basil Thampi and Jaydev Unadkat.

Sri Lanka: Thisara Perera(C), Upul Tharanga, Angelo Mathews, Kusal Janith Perera, Danushka Gunathilaka, Niroshan Dickwella, Asela Gunaratne, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dasun Shanaka, Chaturanga de Silva, Sachith Pathirana, Dananjaya De Silva, Nuwan Pradeep, Vishwa Fernando and Dusmantha Chameera.

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