The third and final T20I of the series between Sri Lanka and India will be played in Pune on Friday. Virat Kohli’s men will want to keep their momentum going in the shortest format, especially with the ICC T20 World Cup to be held later this year.
For the visitors, a series-leveling win at Pune could go a long way in boosting the morale of the team that has been transition for a while.
No changes expected for the hosts
India played five specialist bowlers and Shivam Dube in the previous game in Indore and the home team may choose not to tinker with the winning combination. That would mean the perennial bench warmers Sanju Samson and Manish Pandey alongside spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravindra Jadeja will not make it to the playing XI.
Shreyas Iyer was promoted to No.3 in the second game of the series and the youngster played an unbeaten sparkling cameo to help complete the chase. With the 25-year-old taking that spot in the batting order, Virat Kohli could possibly play aggressively from the outset with Iyer or one of the openers anchoring the innings. A middle-order of Kohli, Rishabh Pant and Shivam Dube is quite explosive and that could prove decisive in the death overs of an innings.
Kuldeep Yadav is slowly but surely establishing himself as India’s premier white ball spinner after a good showing against the West Indies followed by his two-wicket haul at Indore. The left-armer’s ability to flight the ball provides a nice contrast to the flat and quick off-spin of Washington Sundar.
Sri Lanka must tackle pace
While Sri Lanka got off to a decent start in the power play at Indore, the wheels came off in the middle overs with their top-order struggling against India’s pace attack. Experienced players like Angelo Mathews and Kusal Mendis could slot in to counter the Indian pace trio.
Isuru Udana has been ruled out due to a back injury the pacer sustained during the game at Indore, while fielding. This is a major blow for Sri Lanka, as Udana is a wicket-taking bowler who had a good stint at the recently concluded Mzanzi T20 League in South Africa. Kasun Rajitha will likely be his replacement.
Following their incredible triumph in Pakistan, the Lions have slipped to four consecutive defeats in the T20 format. Lasith Malinga’s team will need to play out of their skins to beat India at Pune and avoid a fifth loss in a row.
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