The opening ODI between Sri Lanka and India was quite revealing. The gulf between the hosts and a second-choice Indian outfit was clear as Shikhar Dhawan's team eased to a seven-wicket win in Colombo on Sunday.
The Lankans battled their way to a competitive score of 262-9 and would have hoped for some assistance for their bowlers under the flood lights. But India's batting line-up made a mockery of the target, reaching 263-3 with almost 15 overs remaining.
India relied on Dhawan's 33rd ODI half-century, fellow opener Prithvi Shaw's 24-ball 43 and an attacking 59 by Ishan Kishan to take a 1-0 lead into the second match of the three-game ODI series in Colombo on Tuesday.
Shaw was named man of the match for getting India off to a quick start. Suryakumar Yadav then finished things off with a 20-ball 31.
“It was good to be on the other end and watch Prithvi and Ishan. I was telling them to take it easy actually,” Dhawan said after the win.
“The way these young boys play in the IPL [Indian Premier League], they get lots of exposure and they just finished the game in the first 15 overs.”
It was the urgency shown by the Indian batsmen that caught the eye. Players of all teams are making the most of any opportunity that comes their way to claim a spot in the T20 World Cup squad. And even though we are in the midst of an ODI series, the Indian players — especially the batsmen — are auditioning for the limited spots still open in India's packed T20 line-up.
In other words, Indian players see the entire tour of three ODIs and three T20s as six opportunities to showcase their T20 skills. If they get a chance to bat first on Tuesday, a total of well above 300 should be expected.
On the bowling front, all-rounder Hardik Pandya bowled five overs and picked up a wicket, which must be a breath of fresh air for the Indian management worried about his bowling fitness following a serious back injury. Pandya bowling his quota of overs will be an important asset for India when they aim for the T20 title in the UAE later this year.