Sri Lanka and India will come face to face in the first Twenty20 International of the three-match series at the R. Premadasa Stadium, Colombo on Sunday (July 25). Shikhar Dhawan and Co. won the One-Day International series 2-1, but things could have gone Sri Lanka's way if they would have managed to get rid of Deepak Chahar in the second encounter. The hosts lost the second game by three wickets but ended the series on a winning note.
Sri Lanka have won only five of their last 24 T20Is since 2019 and have the least win percentage (21.7) amongst the top-10 teams. They are still looking for some players to fit in their T20I set-up, India have a problem of plenty. This will be India's last white-ball assignment prior to the World Cup.
GROUND DETAILS AND TEAM COMBINATION
The R. Premadasa Stadium hasn't hosted a single T20I since Sri Lanka v England in October 2018. The venue has always been batting friendly, but going by the recently concluded ODI series, there was enough assistance for the spinners. There are some quality spinners on offer and it would be ideal to have at least two of them in your XI.
* Suryakumar Yadav and Prithvi Shaw are likely to join the Indian Test team in England. However, the BCCI is yet to confirm whether they will fly in the middle of the T20I series or once it's over. Meanwhile, there's no news on Wanindu Hasaranga's availability (muscle tear in his leg) but if he is fit and ready, the all-rounder should be a part of your team.
While you could go for the above team, you also have the option of choosing your own team from Cricket.com’s Fantasy Research Centre. You can use this tool to build your team with the help of algorithms. Based on your preferences, the platform will guide you to create the ideal fantasy XI.
Shikhar Dhawan has transformed himself into a consistent performer in the shortest format of the game. The left-handed opener amassed 618 runs (@ 44.14) at an impressive strike rate of 144.73 in IPL 2020. He was also the leading run-getter in IPL 2021 - 380 runs at 54.28 before the tournament came to a halt. Dhawan's run-scoring rate has been on the rise; the numbers are impressive and he would be eager to do well considering he still has a decent chance to make it to the T20 World Cup squad. Dhawan crafted 86* in the first ODI before managing scores of 29 and 13 in the last two games.
Suryakumar Yadav looked in superb touch throughout the ODI series and was rightly named Player of the Series. The right-hander from Mumbai managed scores of 31*, 53 and 40 and was undoubtedly India's best batsman. He has been around for quite some time now but has transformed himself into a different T20 beast since 2018. The flamboyant batsman made his much-awaited India debut earlier this year against England and smashed a stroke-filled 57 and 32 in his first two innings. He has also been Mumbai Indians' most consistent batsman in the last three-four years.
Rahul Chahar is not far away from becoming India's frontline spinner in the shortest format of the game. In T20s since 2019, the legspinner has a better average and strike rate than Yuzvendra Chahal, Varun Chakravarthy and Kuldeep Yadav. The 21-year-old was having a pretty good IPL 2021 before the tournament was suspended. He took 11 wickets in seven games at an economy of 7.21 and a strike rate of 15.2. Chahar featured in the final ODI and picked up three wickets.
Avishka Fernando (159 runs at 53) emerged as the leading run-scorer in the ODI series. The right-handed opener managed scores of 33, 50 and 76 and will now be eager to carry forward his form into the T20I series. Fernando has a horrible T20I record but the 23-year-old has been in good touch and it won't be a bad idea to put him in your XI.
In T20Is since 2018, Bhuvneshwar Kumar has a better economy against left-handers (6.7 v 7.3) but has a much better average (71.3 v 20.9) and strike rate (63.7 v 17.1) against right-handers. You can check out more in-depth projections and key match-ups for this match here.
Sri Lanka: Avishka Fernando, Minod Bhanuka (wk), Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Pathum Nissanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dasun Shanaka (c), Chamika Karunaratne, Isuru Udana, Akila Dananjaya, Binura Fernando, Dushmantha Chameera.
India: Shikhar Dhawan (c), Prithvi Shaw, Suryakumar Yadav, Sanju Samson, Ishan Kishan (wk), Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar/Chetan Sakariya, Varun Chakravarthy, Rahul Chahar.