India will have a new captain when they take on Sri Lanka in the ODI series. With their regular skipper Virat Kohli in England leading the Test unit, Shikhar Dhawan will get to make his captaincy debut for India this weekend.
Because of a separate unit training in an entirely different continent, this current India side has several new faces, including Manish Pandey, who once was touted as the next big thing in Indian cricket but has since fizzled out amid a glut of star batsmen produced by his country.
Also among the ranks are wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, whose unlikely partnership had first began on the same soil where they are now for this series. Chahal and Yadav, since coming together against Sri Lanka in Colombo in 2017, had troubled many a batsmen but the Indian management has stopped the practice of picking both in recent years.
Now back in the same country where their partnership first flourished, it will be interesting to see if Dhawan and co restores the practice of picking them both in the same eleven.
India won the last ODI series they played, beating England at home but since then their mood has been dampened a little, thanks to their defeat in World Test Championship final against New Zealand. A thumping whitewash, just like they secured on their last visit, would be on their agenda.
It has been an unfortunate 10 days or so for Kusal Perera, who was not only replaced by Dasun Shanaka as the captain but has now also picked up a shoulder injury that forces him to miss this series and be on the sidelines for six weeks.
Perera is one of Sri Lanka’s better batsmen. His absence coupled with those of suspended Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Mendis and Danushka Gunathilaka mean that Sri Lanka will have practically their entire first-choice batting line-up missing for such a difficult series.
The hosts would have been in for a headache of a series even with their regulars but now that they are severely depleted, their main job would be to just remain competitive and avoid a whitewash like the 5-0 mauling which they suffered the last time the Indians paid them a visit in 2017.