India and Sri Lanka meet in a three-match Twenty20 series, which starts on Tuesday, and is the final chance for the teams to finalise their preparations for next month’s World T20 in India.
Top of the rankings
India are the form side in the shortest version of international cricket, having moved to the top of the ICC Twenty20 world rankings last month after they whitewashed Australia 3-0 in their series. Sri Lanka, who are the reigning World Twenty20 champions, are currently third in the rankings, two points behind India.
India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin took just four wickets in the series against Australia. But captain MS Dhoni is relaxed about his bowler’s form. “He just makes my job slightly easy, especially for a consistent period of time when my fast bowlers have not done well,” he said. “It is good to have him and I think he is a great asset.”
India are taking the chance to experiment with their line-up ahead of the World T20 they are hosting, with batsman Virat Kohli being rested for the series. Kohli has been replaced by Manish Pandey who struck a century in the last of the ODIs in Australia but failed to make the cut for the World T20 squad, which was announced on Friday.
With Sri Lanka missing players such as T20 captain Lasith Malinga, Test captain Angelo Mathews and left-arm spinner Rangana Herath all out with injuries, coach Graham Ford has realistic expectations. “I think Sri Lanka cricket finds itself in the very early stages of a very important rebuilding stage. A lot of hard work needs to be done,” Ford said.
The first match in the series takes place in Pune, starting at 6pm. The other games are in Ranchi on Friday, and then in Visakhapatnam next Sunday. The World T20 begins on March 8, with India, the winners of the inaugural competition in 2007, in Group 2, while the Sri Lankans are in Group 1.
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