Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!
India v Sri Lanka | Tuesday 9 February | Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium | 15:45
A depleted Sri Lankan side will travel to India for a three-match T20 series this week. Their mission, try and beat an Indian team who will be full of confidence having just whitewashed Australia in the T20 segment of their tour Down Under.
The first T20 takes place on Tuesday afternoon at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium. Let’s take a look at how the teams are shaping up for the opening game.
To Win Match
Sri Lanka 22/10
After a historic T20 series win Down Under, the Indian management team has decided it’s time to test their depth for next month’s World T20. One of India’s most impressive players in their recently concluded tour of Australia was Virat Kohli. The right-handed batsmen was in devastating form during the limited overs segment of the tour, but with the absurd amount of cricket taking place over the next few months, the Indian selection panel has decided to give the belligerent batsman a rest. His place in the squad has been taken by uncapped all-rounder Pawan Negi.
Despite resting their talisman, India will come into this one as big favourites, which is not a surprise when you consider they’re coming off the back of a massive series win Australia and are now back on decks that their players are a lot more familiar with. The likes of Ravi Ashwin, veteran Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Handik Pandya will be relishing playing on slower decks that offer a lot more turn than the ones they bowled on Down Under.
While Rohit Sharma had no problems adjusting to the alien conditions found in Australia, he and his batting colleagues will probably be happy to be back on home soil. All of the Indian batsmen enjoy playing against slower bowlers, and with Lasith Malinga sidelined for the Sri Lankans, the nucleus of the Lions' bowling attack is going to be made up of spinners.
They may be the defending World T20 Champions but a glance at their recent results may have you thinking otherwise. The Islanders come into this tour having lost their previous three T20 series, the most recent of which saw them whitewashed by New Zealand in a two-match series.
To make matters worse for the Lions, they will be without Angelo Matthews and Lasith Malinga for the entirety of their tour, while Tillakaratne Dilshan has been ruled out of first ODI with a hand injury. Dilshan’s place in the squad will be filled by wicket keeper-batsman, Niroshan Dickwella. The 22-year-old isn’t the only inexperienced player who will line up for the islanders in India. 20-year-old Binura Fernando – who has only played two T20 Internationals – is likely to come into the side as one of the Sri Lankans bowling options.
I’m not going to hold any punches here, this tour is going to be a grueling one for this young Sri Lankan side. However, with the T20 World Cup only a few weeks away, it may just be the preparation they need for their title defence.
Verdict: India 7/20
Sri Lanka will be severely weakened by the absence of three of their key players, and I really can’t see them beating this experienced but somewhat experimental Indian side. Back the host to claim the spoils at 7/20.
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