A battle scarred India would be looking to push ahead the good form when it meets Sri Lanka in the third league outing of the Asia Cup T20 here at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium on Tuesday. Injuries of differing dimensions to some of its key players have been the only cause of concern for India, which so far has impressed with its dominance on the performance front.
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni complained of back spasm as soon as the Indians arrived in Bangladesh and one of the mainstays of the team batting, Rohit Sharma, is nursing soreness on one of his toes which got hit by a crushing yorker from Mohammad Amir in the last match against Pakistan.
While Dhoni did show up at practice, Rohit stayed away from the drills ahead of India’s meeting against Sri Lanka. Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit’s regular opening partner, too missed the last match with an injured left-ankle making the team management go for Aninkya Rahane as the replacement. >Read: Rohit and Shikhar's injury woes
Despite the injuries, India can count itself to be the favourite against an opponent which reserves greater concerns when it comes to the form and fitness of the team. Sri Lanka in all likelihood will be missing its captain and attack spearhead Lasith Malinga, who saw his team capitulate against host Bangladesh in the last match sitting with a strapped knee in the dugout. Stand-in captain Angelo Mathews may see his role extended further as Malinga’s return to the team is delayed by the seriousness of the injury.
The Indian camp would be weighing many options about the playing eleven, forced more by the questions of fitness to its players rather than the urge to rotate the side as Dhoni said at the inception of the tournament. With the ICC World Twenty20 round the corner, the Indian think tank may be forced to alter the combination which remained largely the same in the last two months, where it won seven out of the eight outings. >Read: Ashwin believes in adapting to conditions
With Parthiv Patel already drafted in as a late requisition after Dhoni’s injury, the left-hander may well get in for his Mumbai Indians team-mate Rohit if he is ruled out from playing. With Ajinkya Rahane already in for Dhawan, the match against Sri Lanka may see a new opening combination if both the regular Indian openers are forced to be rested.
The brilliance of Virat Kohli, who took India to the shore weathering the pace attack of Pakistan with a masterful 49 in the last match, is one aspect that India would like see a repeat of when it looks to seal a spot in the final. Suresh Raina, who has not been in his element of late, would like to get his confidence back and so will Yuvraj Singh, who would also love to get a big score ahead of the World Cup.
The bowling department, which has seen a fine dovetailing of youth and experience with pacers like Ashish Nehra, Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya combining well, will be working for more consistency. The spinners like R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja too will be eager to whet their skills ahead of the big event. Harbhajan Singh and new revelation Pawan Negi may get a nod if the skipper wishes to get his rotation policy in place.
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