India and Sri Lanka will kick start the T20 format this year in a three-match series starting January 5th.
The hosts have a comfortable lead as far as the shortest format of the game is concerned. India have won 11 of the 16 T20 Internationals played between the two nations with only five going to Sri Lanka.
India hold a 4-1 lead in the last five T20Is as well while the last five T20 games between the two sides in India have all been taken by the hosts.
Ground details and team combination:
The Barsapara Cricket Stadium has played host to just one T20 International and one One-Day International to date. The results in both games were rather contrasting. While the ODI was a high-scoring encounter where India chased down a 323-run target against West Indies easily in 2018, Australia bowled out the hosts for a mere 118 in the lone T20I played at this venue back in 2017.
With rain in the air and a truncated game likely, picking as many all-rounders and hard-hitters in your side should be the way to go.
In the only T20I here, it were the pacers who ruled the roost picking nine of the 11 wickets to fall striking every 16 balls. Given the cold and cloudy conditions and the fact that the match will be played under lights one can expect pacers to dominate proceedings once again.
Diving into the different bowler types, left-arm pacers have been head and shoulders above everyone else. In the lone T20I here, they picked up a wicket every 6 balls averaging 5.3! Someone like Isuru Udana, who did well in the various T20 leagues around the world last year, could be useful here. Right-arm leg-spinners too have been decent record, and someone like Yuzvendra Chahal or Wanindu Hasaranga could possibly have an impact here.
A combination of five frontline batsmen including the wicket-keeper, three all-rounders, one spinner and two fast bowlers could be the way to go for this Test.
The leading run-scorer for India in the shortest format of the game last year, Virat Kohli is our choice for captain for the first T20I. Kohli’s consistency is what stands put. While he was exemplary in Tests and ODIs last year, he was just as good in T20s as well. In 10 innings, the Indian captain amassed 466 runs averaging a hefty 77.67. Furthermore, his record against Sri Lanka is also terrific. In four T20Is against the islanders, Kohli has slammed 283 runs averaging 94.33 having scored a half-century each time he has faced them. In a year where he will lead India at the T20 World Cup, Kohli will want to start off with a statement and he will want to do it nice and early.
Despite all the talent in the world KL Rahul has been unable to cement his place in the Indian side. But 2019 was a reversal in fortunes for him as he became a more permanent member of the side, at least in the shortest format of the game. He scored 356 runs in nine innings last year averaging a strong 44.5. His record against Sri Lanka is also pretty good. With Rohit Sharma rested, Rahul has the perfect platform to make a strong case leading into the T20 World Cup.
He might have been injured for a bulk of last year, but there is little denying that Jasprit Bumrah is one of the best bowlers going around in the shortest format of the game. It has been a frustrating last few months for the pacer but now that he is fit, he will be raring to go and make a statement. He had excellent numbers in T20s in 2019. In 18 innings, he picked up 22 wickets striking very 19 balls. On a surface which is likely to aid pacers, Bumrah can prove to be a handful.
While Sri Lanka did not have the best of times in 2019, Lasith Malinga shone through. The highest wicket-taker for his side in 2019, Malinga finished the year with 14 wickets in 10 innings striking every 16.7 balls. Malinga knows most of the India players well too and will want to bring out all his experience into play in Guwahati.
It has been raining in Guwahati in the lead up to the first T20I and the forecast for Sunday isn’t too promising either. The temperature is expected to hover around the 18 to 20 degree range with scattered thunderstorms likely throughout the day. We might have a truncated game at our disposal in such a case.
Virat Kohli (c), KL Rahul, Danushka Gunathilaka, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Rishabh Pant (wk), Isuru Udana, Ravindra Jadeja, Shivam Dube, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Lasith Malinga