Second-string Indian team still holds upper hand on Sri Lanka ODI series

Shikhar Dhawan's visitors better placed ahead of first ODI in Colombo on Sunday

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - September 23, 2018: India's Shikhar Dhawan bats during the game between India and Pakistan in the Asia cup. Sunday, September 23rd, 2018 at Sports City, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National

While Virat Kohli and the other Indian stars are busy preparing for the upcoming Test series in England, halfway across the world another Indian team is gearing up for white-ball cricket in Sri Lanka.

Such are the circumstances cricketers and administrators find themselves in, countries are fielding a completely different set of teams. Earlier, England were forced to play an entirely new squad after a Covid-19 outbreak within their camp ahead of the recent Pakistan white-ball matches.

India, on the other hand, have such an abundance of options that they did not bat an eyelid while scheduling two separate tours at the same time.

Shikhar Dhawan leads a squad specialising in white-ball cricket, including regulars Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Suryakumar Yadav and all-rounders Hardik and Krunal Pandya. The first ODI of the three-match series begins in Colombo on Sunday.

Even with a weakened opposition, Sri Lanka are low on confidence. As late as Saturday, Sri Lanka did not know who their wicketkeeper would be. Having endured disciplinary, injury and coronavirus problems, the Lankans have entrusted new captain Dasun Shanaka with an inexperienced squad that has five players with no international experience.

Shanaka took over as captain for the three ODIs and three Twenty20s after captain and wicketkeeper Kusal Perera was ruled out due to injury.

And while it is a second-string Indian team, the hosts have some serious issues. Three senior Sri Lankan players, including vice-captain Kusal Mendis, were suspended during last month's tour of England after they violated a bio-secure bubble.

Earlier this month, all-rounder Angelo Mathews took an indefinite break from national duty ahead of the India matches.

This came after the player came under fire for a poor tour of England. There, they lost the T20 series 3-0 and only rain ensured they did not end the ODI leg with a 6-0 scoreline.

Updated: July 17th 2021, 2:38 PM