The squad for the India vs Sri Lanka tour has been announced and there are barely any surprising exclusions. As expected, Shikhar Dhawan will lead the 20-members squad in both, ODIs and T20s. Among the notable absentees are the injured duo of Shreyas Iyer and T Natarajan, who would have both perhaps started in the two formats of the tour.
Rahul Tewatia, too, did not get a look in. The full squad is – Shikhar Dhawan (C), Prithvi Shaw, Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Suryakumar Yadav, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Nitish Rana, Ishan Kishan (WK), Sanju Samson (WK), Yuzvendra Chahal, Rahul Chahar, K Gowtham, Krunal Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Varun Chakravarthy, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini, and Chetan Sakariya.
The above includes an interesting mix of usual suspects and fresh faces. With another Indian team touring England for the WTC and a Test series after, this is a good opportunity to shine for those who have a point to prove. Here are 5 key players for the India vs Sri Lanka series.
India vs Sri Lanka key man – Hardik Pandya
This series is a big one for Hardik. The all-rounder has been reduced to a batsman recently, given his fitness issues. Hardik has not bowled for India on a regular basis since the 2019 World Cup and was not seen bowling in the IPL too.
The MI player must then either prove himself a worthy top order batsman or start bowling effectively again. Otherwise, as a pure batsman, India would have plenty of candidates ahead of him to start in the ICC T20 World Cup. Maybe Nitish Rana, who is in the squad, and can even turn his arm over.
India vs Sri Lanka key men – Prithvi Shaw
The upcoming tour to Sri Lanka will be a shot at redemption for Shaw. The diminutive batsman was left out after an unceremonious tour to Australia. Since then, the opener has been in sublime form, scoring runs for fun in the domestic circuit.
He followed that up with a good IPL run too, hitting his fellow former U-19 World Cup winner Shivam Mavi for six boundaries in a single over.
India vs Sri Lanka key men – Yuzvendra Chahal Kuldeep Yadav
The leg spinner made a flying start to his international career along with Chinaman spin twin Kuldeep Yadav. However, things have not been as rosy lately. Chahal has struggled, like Kuldeep, to consistently trouble batsmen. They have not benefitted from the constant change of personnel too.
However, the upcoming series gives both a great opportunity to reunite and perhaps reinstate their dominance as a duo in world cricket. Both would then stake a strong claim to India’s squad for the ICC T20 World Cup.
Chahal is perhaps likelier than Kuldeep but given the latter is a unique breed, one might see Kulcha make a strong comeback.
India vs Sri Lanka key men – Manish Pandey
He is one of the most experienced men on the flight to Sri Lanka. Manish Pandey was a part of Virat Kohli’s U-19 World Cup winning team in 2008 and at the wrong side of 30, is yet to truly establish himself. The right handed batsman promised to be a regular when he started with a century in Australia but since then, has not been consistent enough.
Recently, he was dropped from SunRisers Hyderabad’s team given his inability to accelerate the scoring. This tour, thus, is a golden opportunity for Pandey and perhaps even one of his final. Indian cricket is brimming with upcoming talent, and it will not be long before they break the door down and take Manish Pandey down to domestic cricket as a collateral.
India vs Sri Lanka key men – Varun Chakravarthy
If there ever was one spinner, captain Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri wanted to succeed, it would be Varun Chakravarthy. The former architect provides the Indian team with an option that nobody else in the circuit possesses – mystery spin.
Chakravarthy should have, in an ideal scenario, made his debut in Australia last year but injury forced him out of that series. Same happened, jeopardizing his participation against England at home earlier this year.
However, he will now sincerely hope – for himself and his nation – that he remains fit enough for the T20 leg of the competition. And a strong performance in the land of Ajantha Mendis – a mystery spinner who confused India to submission in 2008 – will surely book him a ticket to the ICC T20 World Cup.