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Match Preview – India vs Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka in India 2022/23, 3rd T20I

Big picture: SL eyes first T20I series victory in India

The last time India lost a bilateral T20I series at home was in 2019 when Australia beat them 2-0. Since then they have an 11 series unbeaten run. But that could change on Saturday.

After running close to India in the first T20I, Sri Lanka defeated them by 16 runs in the second to make it 1-1. A victory for Sri Lanka in Rajkot will not only break India’s streak but will also give the visitors their first T20I series victory in India in six tries.

Sri Lanka’s batters may not frighten the opposition, but they understand the grammar of the format. Throughout their innings in the second T20I, Sri Lanka had at least one batter in the middle – Kusal Mendis in the first half and Dasun Shanaka in the second – bringing the attack to the bowlers. In Wanindu Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana they have two with the most crafty spinners around. If their fast bowlers click, as they did in Pune, they can compete with any side.

India, on the other hand, had two top-order collapses in as many games. Deepak Hooda and Axar Patel saved them in the first T20I, and Suryakumar Yadav and Axar tried to keep them in the game in the second. Aside from that, their bowling unit as a whole hasn’t clicked either. After the first T20I, Hardik Pandya spoke about how he put his players in tricky situations. In the form of a must-win game, it has just that.

Form guide

India LWTWL (last five completed T20Is, most recent first)
Sri Lanka WLLWL

In the spotlight: Arshdeep Singh and Dasun Shanaka

Despite making his T20I debut just six months ago, Arshdeep Singh was supposed to be the speed attack leader in this revamped Indian squad. He missed the first T20I due to illness and then bowled five no-balls in two overs, costing India 37, in the second. Switching has been an old problem with Arshdeep, and it’s about time he solved it.

Dasun Shanaka likes to play against India. In the opening game, his 47 off 27 balls kept Sri Lanka in the game. On Thursday, he beat the fastest T20I half century by a Sri Lankan batsman before taking two wickets in the final of the match to seal victory. His last five T20I knockouts against India are 56* (22), 45* (27), 33* (18), 74* (38) and 47* (19). With the ball he has taken more than half of his T20I wickets (14 of 23) against them. If he continues on the same footing, it will not be easy for India to keep their unbeaten run intact.

Team News: Will India, SL Make Changes?

After the second T20I, Rahul Dravid said India didn’t want to make too many changes unless there was an injury. So expect them to go with an unchanged XI.

India (likely): 1 Ishan Kishan (wk), 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Rahul Tripathi, 4 Suryakumar Yadav, 5 Hardik Pandya (capt), 6 Deepak Hooda, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Shivam Mavi, 9 Umran Malik, 10 Arshdeep Singh, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal

Sri Lanka may be facing a selection conundrum. Will they keep the winning combination, or try to improve it further by replacing an out-of-form Bhanuka Rajapaksa with Sadeera Samarawickrama? In the recently concluded LPL, Samarawickrama was the second highest run getter with 294 runs at an average of 58.80 and a strike rate of 131.25.

Sri Lanka (likely): 1 Pathum Nissanka, 2 Kusal Mendis (wk), 3 Dhananjaya de Silva, 4 Charith Asalanka, 5 Sadeera Samarawickrama/Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 6 Dasun Shanaka (captain), 7 Wanindu Hasaranga, 8 Chamika Karunaratne, 9 Maheesh Theekshana, 10 Kasun Rajitha, 11 Dilshan Madushanka

Pitch and conditions: Run-fest in Rajkot?

The Rajkot field is often compared to the adjacent state highway, so get ready for another running fest. The teams will try to bowl first after winning the coin toss, as this location favors the chasing team. It will be a cool evening with clear skies; the temperature should be around 17°C.

Statistics and tidbits

  • Yuzvendra Chahal (88) needs three wickets to overtake Bhuvneshwar Kumar (90) as the highest wicket taker for India in T20Is.
  • Hardik has captained India in seven T20Is so far. Thursday was the first time he finished on the losing side.
  • Sri Lanka has never played an international match at SCA Stadium, Rajkot.
  • In his last ten T20Is, Rajapaksa has 137 runs at an average of 15.22 and a strike rate of 115.12.

Quotes

“She [Sri Lanka] have quite an experienced T20I side in this series. They haven’t made too many changes to their playing XI since the World Cup. They have some class players. They have some very good spinners, they have power hitters in the back of the game. I think Dasun Shanaka plays very well. They may have had some rough patches but they are certainly not a side you would take lightly at any stage.”
head coach of India Rahul Dravid on his opponents

“It’s not about the mystery, it’s always about the right line and length. If I don’t hit the right line and length, they go [batters] will go after me. So when bowling I always try to focus on that. That’s why I’ve continuously done well in this format.
Maheesh Theekshana reveals the method behind its mysterious twist

Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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