Sri Lanka and India renew rivalry today in cricket’s most pulsating T20 format at Lucknow in rather new settings. India will be led by the dashing opening batsman Rohit Sharma who has emerged as the new torch bearer of world cricket’s most cricket smitten land. In a significant bow out of the leadership by the game’s champion batsman Virat Kohli who has been rest sidelined from the squad, it will be the young flamboyant Sri Lankans testing the Indians in their lion den.
Sri Lanka, in the throes of change led by pinch hitting all-rounder, 30-year old Dasun Shanaka, brace for a charged up Indians who are not the least decimated without their former captain given their oozing talent. Therein, Shanaka and company go head on not with the best of results in the bag to draw from given the 4-1 defeat to Australia from where they have jetted in a long two phased bout. The only factor the Lankans can draw some inspiration is having beaten the reigning world champions squarely in the final game by 5 wickets. The plus point from that victory is that a yet in quest of perfection cast in a revamped curve in the last few years, did see some of the new discoveries gradually pick themselves up in the harsh rigors of the game’s professional of exponents. Young opening batsman Pathum Nissanka did hit the mark from the start of the tour.
If the form of Nissanka has been a definite new ray in that looked to resurgence, the progressive evolving of skipper Dasun Shanaka to desired measure culminating in that match winning cameo of 35 was heartening stuff. Significantly, Shanaka has displayed the traits of blossoming in the area he loves best wielding the willow whilst fitting into the harsh responsibilities of the captaincy. Besides, Kusal Mendis coming good from a bad patch with his match winning unbeaten top score of 69 was a turnaround. Similarly was the form pick up from a poor start to the tour by the young new vice captain Charith Asalanka plugging the testing pivotal No.3 slot with a 9-ball 22 flourish.
In that high road to the ultimate fulfilment of becoming a world beating side, the loopholes to be plugged is the challenge ahead to the Lankans. The infusion of more new blood in the likes of young off spin prodigy 21-year old Ashen Daniel and batsmen Kamil Mishara and Janith Liyanage is a step in that direction. The call up of Daniel, a former Sri Lanka Under-19 star of the 2020 team is interesting following some telling displays with the ball on the recent domestic front. He is quite a handy late order batsman as well. It will be as interesting whether Daniel would get the nod against the Indians in getting the right bowling mix in lending muscle to the likes of Dushmantha Chameera.
Meanwhile, star all-rounder Wanindu Hasaranga, who was sidelined by the pandemic during the tour of Australia, will need medical clearance to make it to India.
Out of the equation for the India tour from those who toured Australia are Avishka Fernando, Ramesh Mendis and Nuwan Thushara.
Of the 22 past fixtures between the two sides, India has won 14 as against Sri Lanka’s 7 with 1 no-result.