More than winning yet another bilateral series at home, India will have an eye on their preparation for this year’s 50-over World Cup as the ODIs against Sri Lanka begin, with the first to be played in Guwahati on Tuesday.
This series against the Sri Lankans, followed by the one versus the visiting New Zealanders, give India a fair opportunity to work on their combination and try out a few players.
Though it may seem too early, but captain Rohit Sharma, returning to action after recovering from a left thumb injury, and head coach Rahul Dravid should start focusing on forming a combination for the World Cup at home in October-November.
The team, of course, will not have the services of Rishabh Pant, who underwent knee ligament surgery last week.
Skipper Rohit, who has insisted that he hasn’t given up on the T20 format, must be keen to make a statement, having drawn flak for India’s crushing defeat in the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup followed by the embarrassing ODI series loss to Bangladesh.
So would Virat Kohli, for whom it wouldn’t get any better if he scores a big one in a game of consequence.Both his hundreds last year came in inconsequential games.
KL Rahul, too, is set to be back in the side and will most likely don the wicketkeeper’s gloves.
With senior pro Shikhar Dhawan left out after a string of low scores, Rohit is set to have a new opening partner in the form of Shubman Gill, who was preferred over Ishan Kishan. What worked in Gill’s favour is his consistency of late in the 50-overs game.
“Gill has got a lot of runs in the last few games.So has Ishan.I am not going to take anything away from Ishan, who has been wonderful for us…Got a double hundred…And, I know what it takes to get a double hundred, which is a great achievement.
“But just to be honest and fair to the guys who have done really well before, we need to give them enough chances as well before we make that call,” Rohit said on Monday.
Despite Suryakumar Yadav’s unbelievable form in T20Is, it seems India would prefer Shreyas Iyer in the XI as he too has been quite consistent lately in the one-day format.“I think it (to select either Surya or Shreyas) is a great headache to have rather than having no headache.
“ODI is a different format, slightly longer than T20, and we are very clear that the guys who have done well will definitely get the opportunities,” Rohit stressed.
Bowling-wise, the in-form Axar Patel is likely to be a certainty along with pacer Mohammed Siraj.