Ishan Kishan

India’s likely second-string T20I XI for Sri Lanka tour


Former India captain and BCCI president, Sourav Ganguly, on Sunday (May 9) said the national team is due to travel to Sri Lanka for a series of 3 ODIs and 5 T20Is.

Ganguly brought the India-Sri Lanka series under discussions during an interview with Sportstar. He was asked whether the remaining games of the recently suspended IPL 2021 can be held in July – after the World Test Championship final against New Zealand and before the five-Test series versus England.

“No,” Ganguly said in response, adding “India is supposed to go to Sri Lanka for three ODIs and five T20Is. There are lots of organisational hazards like 14-day quarantine. It [the IPL] can’t happen in India [either]. This quarantine is tough to handle. Too early to say how we can find a slot to complete the IPL.”

The moment Ganguly’s interview was published and publicly shared, it left the social media buzzing over the likelihood of India sending some of their exciting young players on the fringes across the Island nation.

Also Read: Shubman Gill or Mayank Agarwal: Who should be India’s second Test opener in England?

It is highly likely that India will be sending a second-string squad if the Sri Lanka tour goes ahead, considering the marquee tour of UK and the stringent travelling restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The quarantine regulations will make it extremely difficult for India’s first-choice cricketers to travel to Sri Lanka after the WTC final and then return in time for the England Tests. Hence, most if not all of the 20-man Test squad will stay in the UK through July and play intra-squad matches.

With the T20 World Cup looming, the five-match series versus the Lankans assumes great importance and will offer a chance for those on the fringes to audition for a place in the first-choice XI. And so today, we looked at a potential Indian T20I team for the Sri Lanka tour, keeping in mind all the absentees who will be in England at the time.


Image Courtesy: Getty

India’s likely second-string T20I XI for Sri Lanka tour

1. Prithvi Shaw

After a tremendous IPL 2021, where he made 308 runs from 8 innings at a strike-rate of 166.48 for Delhi Capitals (DC), Prithvi Shaw could be in line for India T20I debut in Sri Lanka. The aggressive right-hand batsman has been in fantastic form since his return from the tour of Australia earlier this year. The series in Island nation will be a perfect opportunity for the selectors and the management to see whether Shaw can be one of the openers for the T20 World Cup.

2. Shikhar Dhawan

Talk of auditioning for the T20 World Cup, the Sri Lanka tour will be a fantastic chance for Shikhar Dhawan to show his improved avatar as a T20 batsman. Since the last year’s edition of the IPL, Dhawan has shown an expanded range to his batting against pacers and spinners alike. He made 380 runs from his 8 innings at a strike-rate of 134.27 in the recently suspended IPL 2021 and will be raring to go in the Island nation.

3. Suryakumar Yadav

The emergence of Suryakumar Yadav as a middle-order batsman was one of the best news to come out of India’s T20I series win over England in March. The right-hand batsman batted magnificently in the couple of innings he had and left a statement regarding his place in the side. Given the stellar form he is in, Suryakumar is an obvious No.3 pick for the Sri Lanka T20Is.

4. Shreyas Iyer (c)

Debatable alright, but in the absence of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, India are likely to appoint Shreyas Iyer as their interim captain for the Sri Lanka tour and also retain him in the T20I side. There have been doubts over his potential as a T20 batsman, but time and again Iyer plays a knock that forces you to give his case a more patient hearing. Iyer is temperamentally strong and is a suited candidate to captain and bat at No.4 in the side.

5. Hardik Pandya

Hardik Pandya will have a point to prove around his batting on the tour of Sri Lanka after facing question marks around his range and power-hitting versus hard lengths. When Hardik previously had some criticism coming his way as a batsman, he made some good technical adjustments and responded to his naysayers with a bang. Expect him to once again bounce back strongly and dominate the Lankan attack.

6. Ishan Kishan

In Rishabh Pant’s absence, Ishan Kishan is expected to get the nod as the wicketkeeper-batsman for Sri Lanka tour. Kishan was part of India’s T20I series versus England and made an excellent debut, scoring a half-century in Ahmedabad. He provides the team flexibility as he can be used as an opener and also a middle-order batsman. Kishan will be determined to make his opportunity count and strengthen his claim of a regular place in the XI.

7. Krunal Pandya

With Hardik Pandya not able to bowl on a regular basis, the selectors have moved away from the five-bowler theory in recent times. They’ve often appointed Washington Sundar to bat No.7 and also share the fifth bowler’s workload. But as Sundar is part of India’s Test squad in the UK, the onus could fall on Krunal Pandya to fill the void. At his best, Krunal can blaze his willow to all parts of the ground and also chip in with some tight overs of left-arm spin.

8. Yuzvendra Chahal

In Sri Lanka, spin will be of immense value to India’s cause and they have a fantastic exponent of the craft in Yuzvendra Chahal. Chahal may not have been at his best in the last couple of years but there is little doubt over his class and pedigree as a T20 spinner. The leggie boasts of an exception IPL record to his name and has played 48 T20Is for India with 62 wickets at an economy rate of 8.40.

9. Bhuvneshwar Kumar

Bhuvneshwar will be the leader of India’s pace attack on the tour of Sri Lanka. The pacer performed exceedingly well on comeback earlier in the year against England during the T20I series. Bhuvneshwar was the most economical bowler from either side and was instrumental to India’s 3-2 series victory. He will be travelling to Sri Lanka with a point to prove after being left out from India’s Test squad for the long tour of UK.

10. T Natarajan

An injury for which he went through surgery cut short T Natarajan’s IPL 2021 for Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), but the left-arm quick is expected to return to India colours on the tour of Sri Lanka. Natarajan offers variety to the Indian attack and will be sharing the death-overs workload with Bhuvneshwar. Natarajan has played 4 T20Is for India with 7 wickets while going for a respectable 7.62 runs per over.

11. Deepak Chahar

In Sri Lanka, if the management feels it has enough spin options available within the XI in Krunal and Chahal’s presence, it can opt for Deepak Chahar as the third pacer alongside Bhuvneshwar and Natarajan. Chahar warmed the benches throughout the England T20Is in March but can prove an impactful customer if he gets the white Kookaburra to swing in the powerplay overs. Chahar has played 13 T20Is for India with 18 wickets to his name and an economy rate of 7.56.

A cricket writer by heart and profession. Currently at work for CricXtasy. Previously with Circle of Cricket. You can find him on Twitter @crickashish217