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India defeated West Indies 3-0 in the recently concluded T20I series and reached the top spot in ICC rankings since 2016 with 269 points. Sri Lanka on the other hand is languishing at the 9th position after being beaten 4-1 by Australia. So it appears that it is a clash of David and Goliath, but the ranking is competitive. 

Sri Lanka also has 231 points and they gave a decent account of themselves against Australia and the new-look team can be a force.

India under the captaincy of Rohit is playing T20 with a different mindset. However, they owe their success to the duo of Surya Kumar Yadav and Venkatesh Iyer, they stretched the score by at least 20 runs in the last two encounters to take the game from West Indies. Rightly, Suryakumar was awarded the Man of Series award.

Match timings

Match Toss Time: 18:30 IST (13:00 GMT)

Match Start Time: 19:00 IST (13:30 GMT)

Match Venue: Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium, Lucknow

Head to Head

India and Srilanka have played 21 matches and the balance is eschewed in favor of India as India has won 14, whereas Sri Lanka only 6, with one match being washed out.

Venue and pitch

Ekana stadium has hosted 4 matches. India has played only one T20, Where Rohit scored 111 and India won over West Indies. West Indies and Afghanistan have played 3 match series which Afghanistan won 2-1.

This is is a wonderful pitch that supports both spin and pace so scoring is not that easy. 170 will be a good score to defend and the team batting first should be looking at the ballpark.

Toss

As the match is in Lucknow, the dew factor will induce teams in chasing. Both teams have spinners so they will feel that dew will affect their spinners due to loosening of grip and for this reason, the team winning the toss should be looking to chase.

Teams

India 

Former Indian skipper Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant have been given rest but spearhead Jasprit Bumrah returns as vice-captain in a surprise move, which is incomprehensible. Similarly, the absence of Rahul is also unfathomable but the return of Ravindra Jadeja is likely to add depth in the batting. 

Ishan Kishan, disappointed as Batsman in the recent series and inclusion of Sanju Samson makes me believe that Sanju will don the gloves. The ruling out of in-form batsman Suryakumar Yadav and pacer Deepak Chahar also comes as a huge blow for the Men in Blue.

Skipper Rohit Sharma and Ruturaj Gaikwad to open. Shreyas Iyer, Sanju Samson, and Ishan Kishan as batters. Ravindra Jadeja and Venkatesh Iyer as all rounders. Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Harshal Patel, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar to make up the bowling unit.

Sri Lanka

It was indeed baffling to see the selection policy of Sri Lanka, Chandimal was preferred over Kusal Mendis. Later in the 5th T20 against Australia, Kusal Mendis played a magical inning to clinch victory.

Star all-rounder Hasaranga who is yet to recover from Covid has been ruled out for the first two T20Is and Sri Lanka will be hoping he is available for the final T20I.

Further, Binura Fernando, a 6"6" strapping bowler who can get the speed of 145+, does not figure in Sri Lankan side is astonishing. He played only one match in Australia and his bowling stats were 4 overs for 12 runs and a wicket. He was dropped for the next 4 matches on what logic, one can not comprehend.

So openers will be Kusal Mendis and Nissanka.  Batters will be Danushka, Asalanka, and Dinesh Chandimal. Skipper Shanka to take up the all-rounder’s role. Dushmantha Chameera, B Fernando, Mahesh Theekshana, and Lahiru Kumara to take up the bowling responsibility.

Probable playing Xl

India (IND): Rohit Sharma(C), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shreyas Iyer, Sanju Samson (wk), Ishan Kishan, Ravindra Jadeja, Venkatesh Iyer, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Harshal Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar

Sri Lanka (SL): Kusal Mendis, Pathum Nissanka, Danushka Gunathilaka, Charith Asalanka, Dinesh Chandimal, Dasun Shanaka, Janith Liyanage, Dushmantha Chameera, Binura Fernando, Mahesh Theekshana, Lahiru Kumara

Strength and Weakness

Sri Lanka

The right-arm off-break Mahesh Theekshana can trouble the best of batsmen. The pace attack of Fernando, Chameera, and Lahura can trouble anyone as all three can bowl above 140.

One can observe that Sri Lankan bowlers troubled Australian batsmen and Australia could not go beyond 170 in any match. This speaks volumes about their bowlers.

In batting, Nissanka can not force the pace. If Shanaka is the main scorer then nothing more is to be said. However they have match-winners like Theekshana and Kusal Mendis, so they can surprise any team.

India

India has a varied attack. Bumrah is one of a kind, Harshal has pace change and yorkers, Deepak has movement to take wickets is power plays.

In batting, Rohit is the match-winner. Sanju Samson is a big performer who can take spinners to cleaners. India's weakness lies in top-order batting. Ruturaj is starting his career. Shreyas needs to build his reputation so he will play cautiously. If the Indian all-rounders fail, India might find it difficult to meet ends.

Verdict

India is the favorite to win. Sri Lanka can spring a surprise if Chameera and Fernando get quick breakthroughs and Sri Lanka manages to put the Indian all-rounders under pressure.

Cricwizz predicts India to win the 1st T20I and lead the 3-match series, 1-0.

So enjoy the match, Happy viewing.