In India vs Sri Lanka T20 Series, It’s Sri Lanka’s First Tour of India. India will surely start as the favorites in the T20 series against Sri Lanka, their first of 2020 and the very first competitive T20 series of a new decade.
Purely on current form, the Sri Lankans, it appears, are going to find it difficult to keep the usually fierce Indian scoring in check.
What we saw in the recently-concluded T20s against West Indies was an electric batting line-up that became a live-wire of a unit producing a rock concert-like show at the Wankhede, when challenged by the West Indians a game earlier, during their series-equalling win.
This proved that India becomes twice more menacing when challenged and pushed to the corner. But not expecting competitiveness from a side that has so often produced matchwinners in the past would be putting things rather lightly in the perspective.
Under the experienced leadership of a seasoned campaigner like Malinga, who’s played T20 cricket just about everywhere in India, the Sri Lankans will hope to come up with something special to tackle the absorbing challenge of countering India.
With the likes of Fernando, Perera, Mendis, Udana, and Mathews, Malinga will feel he’s got both power and experience at his disposal.
It’ll be up to the unit to perform like one cohesive force if they are to disturb India, who usually play like giant killers at their home turf.
Keypoints India vs Sri Lanka T20 Series
But let’s quickly rewind to the past to see just how impressive and daunting have Kohli’s team been against a unit that looks like it could use some fireworks in both batting and bowling departments.
2 years back in time, at Indore, India registered their highest T20 score against Sri Lanka, notching up an emphatic 260 for the loss of 5 wickets.
A total aced at the back of a big knock by Rohit Sharma, a 43-ball-118, who plundered the first of his 2 T20 hundred in a checkered career (where he’s made over 2600 T20 runs), India managed to knock down the clueless Lankans for 172, completing an 88-run win in the end.
So the obvious big question at the back of what’s been a magnificent, nearly free-scoring rout by Indian batsmen, as seen recently during the Windies T20 series, is whether the side can exceed the past team total?
Can India’s Envious Bi-lateral Series Record Remain Intact vs Sri Lanka
In one word, India’s form against their old sub-continental rivals in the shortest format has been a rather one-way street. Some would call it utterly overwhelming, others could simply resort to calling it dismissive.
The first that India ever played a T20 against the Lankans was back in 2009, that’s exactly a decade back in time. And the last that India played a T20 against the side was in 2018.
But the one thing that was common in the very first outing between the two as also in the latest outing, in 2018, was India’s win, the dominant narrative painting in the outcome between the two teams in this format.
India has never lost a bilateral series against Sri Lanka. Does that tell you something about just how dominant have India been in their T20 histrionics versus the Sri Lankans?
Having won 5 of their 6 T20 series against Sri Lanka, India have only drawn 1 series but have never lost a single bilateral series, thus far.
While surely, all of that could change given how suspenseful the T20 format can be at the end of the day, but where recent form serves an example- it doesn’t look that difficult for a highly electrifying batting line-up taking the better of Sri Lanka.
So what does the Sri Lankan unit have in its plans to contain the fiery Indian batsmen?
Can Sri Lanka find a way to keep Kohli quiet?
The one batsman who tops everyone’s mind whenever groundbreaking records and fierce individual achievements are debated, Virat Kohli inspires just as much as he thrills.
And in yet another new cricketing season, he’ll be expected to return to his familiar state: that of playing prominently as a czar of batting.
What’s rather interesting is that at this point, both he and Rohit Sharma are at the exact identical T20 numbers where the runs department stands: at 2633 runs.
1 more run and Kohli will be India’s highest T20 scorer in the current make up. But the scorer of most 2019 runs across formats has an exceptional record against Malinga’s side in the T20 format: 283 T20 runs, 4 fifties, a batting average of 94.
A sixth of his overall T20 fifties have come against the Lankan side. So one of the things to look forward to during the India vs Sri Lanka T20 series would be whether Kohli can get to a significant first in his Twenty-20 career: a t20 ton? At the same time, Sri Lanka would be cautious about not giving King Kohli any leeway whatsoever.
Can KL Rahul fire again, keeping up with his 2019 form?
The dust may have settled over 2019, a year where KL Rahul imploded from within and caused havoc for most sides facing his blunt blade in the limited-overs format, but where the T20s are concerned, there’s hardly a doubt about the kind of form Rahul has waged, of late.
His impressive returns in the 3-match T20 series versus the Pollard-led Windies serve a fine reminder of what Rahul did in the T20-format.
While he’s scored well over 1100 T20 runs, he’s hardly had many games against Sri Lanka, although an opposition he ridiculed following a 49-ball-89 in 2017.
Thus far, he’s scored 356 runs from just 9 outings, including 4 fifties against the Malinga-led team.
There’s hardly a doubt about KL’s natural talent and proclivity toward scoring fluently but he’ll be unafraid to have these tested when he sets out to bat against the touring Sri Lankans.
India’s man in-form up the order, a lot about how India approaches their batting will be down to KL’s form.
Will Lasith Malinga inspire Sri Lankans to much-needed success?
The only Sri Lankan with 100 plus wickets in the format, Sri Lankan captain Lasith Malinga’s T20 record against India is a rather pitiable one.
Thus far, the ace 36-year-old fast bowling supremo has never taken a three-for against India, let alone scalping four dismissals in a single game.
What makes for a strange observation is that Malinga’s best effort against India features a lowly two-for 25, with the Indians having milked him for plenty as suggested by the economy of well over 8 an over.
In fact, it doesn’t make for a pretty sight at all to note that Malinga has only taken 4 international T20 wickets against India while 102 others have come against the likes of Pakistan, West Indies, Australia, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Ireland, Zimbabwe, and even Kenya and Netherlands.
Malinga’s also gone for quite a lot many against a batting attack that leaves little to the imagination, his bowling average of 52 dispelling all doubts about his underwhelming outing against one of the most premier forces in cricket’s briefest formats.
But as captain, can Lasith Malinga pull up his sock and produce a bowling spell that’ll be remembered for the times to come? Moreover, can he inspire his younger lot to produce an ace of a contest against a side that’ll be just as hard to beat as it’s difficult to contend against? That’s one of the things to look forward to during the India vs Sri Lanka T20 series.
What will Jasprit Bumrah’s return bring India?
Having been out of active cricket for over a quarter of a year, owing to a back scuffle, India will be bolstered by Jasprit Bumrah’s return.
One of the menacing fast bowling talents in the international stage and a quintessential competitor in the limited-overs format, Bumrah, who shared that he used his break as an opportunity to build ‘strength’ will be keener than ever to bounce back.
We know the kind of damage he can wreck in the shortest format of the game, being a skilled marksman with the white ball, but Bumrah who last played a T20 well over half a year ago will look to lend early jolts to Sri Lanka int he T20 series opener.
One of the things to look forward during the India vs Sri Lanka T20 series would be whether Bumrah- 51 wickets from 42 T20s- can take a four-for, the first of his career.
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