India Tour of Sri Lanka: The limited-overs series in Sri Lanka is more a test of bench strength than a warm-up event for the ICC T20 World Cup or a full-fledged tour. Under coach Rahul Dravid, the focus will be on testing the white-ball specialists in the three-match ODIs and as many T20Is from July 13 as the core Team India under Virat Kohli’s captaincy is on a 4-month long tour of England. However, for many players including Manish Pandey, Sanju Samson, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, the Sri Lanka tour will be a make or break and a poor show could lead to permanent exile from Team India.
Under Rahul Dravid’s watchful eyes, the Sri Lanka tour is being treated as an India ‘A’ tour where every squad member will get equal opportunities to prove their mettle. Hence, the likes of Manish Pandey, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav and Sanju Samson, it is not anymore, a show of their prowess. Instead, they will have to compete with the newcomers in the team. They will be under immense scrutiny.
India Tour of Sri Lanka: 4 India stars for whom Sri Lanka tour will be a make or break
Manish Pandey: Despite the promise to become India’s answer to their No 4 problem in limited-overs cricket, Manish Pandey has proven to be a hit and a miss. When he shined, he looked set to cement his place but then he returned with a string of below-par scores by his standard to be shown the door again. That he never received a fair chance and the backing from the team management also didn’t help him. Another string of poor shows, the Karnataka captain might be permanently exiled from Team India.
- Since Jan 1, 2019, Manish Pandey has played only 3 ODIs, averaging a mere 26.
- In T20Is, he has averaged 57.00 in 11 matches that he has played. But even then, he did not get a chance to prove his worth during India’s T20Is series against England at home.
- In Team India’s middle-order, he now has tough competition from Shreyas Iyer and Suryakumar Yadav.
Yuzvendra Chahal: Before 2019, Yuzvendra Chahal was India’s No 1 spinner in limited-overs cricket. But since then, his stocks have dwindled with a string of poor performances for India as well as RCB in the IPL. Since January 1 1 2019, Chahal has managed only 18 wickets in 21 matches and has been expensive too, conceding runs at an economy rate of 9.14 in the T20Is. In ODIs, he hasn’t been effective either. The England series was one example where he was benched in favour of Krunal Pandya. In IPL 2021, he failed to shine as well.
- Since Jan 2019, Yuzvendra Chahal has managed only 18 wickets in 21 matches, conceding runs at an economy rate of 9.14. His bowling average during this period is 41.66.
- Prior to the period, he was India’s No 1 leg-spinner, scalping 62 wickets in 48 matches with an average of 25.40 and an economy rate of 8.14.
- In ODIs, his performance has dipped as well, bagging 36 wickets in 20 matches, returning with nearly 6 runs an over.
Sri Lanka Tour of India: Kuldeep Yadav: The other half of the famed ‘Kul-Cha’ pair, Kuldeep Yadav has also endured a rough patch. That he did not play a single match for Kolkata Knight Riders during the IPL 2021 says a lot. Similar to Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav was also dropped in favour of Rahul Chahar during the England series and another poor run could see him axed permanently.
- Since January 2019, Kuldeep Yadav has played only 4 T20Is, scalping 6 wickets with an exchange of 9.08 economy rate.
- In ODIs during the same period, Kuldeep Yadav has played 30 ODIs, returning with 38 wickets with an average of 41.71 and economy rate of 5.72.
Sanju Samson: He is flamboyant, extraordinaire and destructor in chief on his day. But Sanju Samson rarely proves his mettle. He has long been thought as MS Dhoni’s replacement but his inconsistency has made it difficult for team management to continue with him, going with Rishabh Pant instead. But in the IPL 2021 with Rajasthan Royals giving him the captaincy, he proved to be consistent in the later half of the tournament. However, for India, he is yet to prove that and another string of poor shows could see him out completely.
- In the 7 T20I matches that he has played for India, Sanju Samson has scored only 83 with an average of 11.85.
- His keeping skills are good but Rishabh Pant and even KL Rahul have also been able to match that.
- He will be competing with Ishan Kishan, another wicketkeeper-batsman who recently made a fantastic debut against England.
Sri Lanka Tour of India: India’s squad: Shikhar Dhawan (Captain), Prithvi Shaw, Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Suryakumar Yadav, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Nitish Rana, Ishan Kishan (WK), Sanju Samson (WK), Yuzvendra Chahal, Rahul Chahar, K Gowtham, Krunal Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Varun Chakravarthy, Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Vice-captain), Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini, Chetan Sakariya
Net Bowlers: Ishan Porel, Sandeep Warrier, Arshdeep Singh, Sai Kishore, Simarjeet Singh