Following the high drama in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Team India under the dynamic leadership of Virat Kohli and newly appointed Head Coach Ravi Shastri, has touched down to Sri Lanka – to gear up for over 45-day long tour which is comprised of three Tests followed by five One-day Internationals and a solitary Twenty20 match. (Read Here: The Fabric Of Indian Cricket Will Remain, Says Ravi Shastri).
Before starting off to give another high to their Test format while being as Number 1 in the longer version of the game, Kohli’s side will wrestle against Sri Lanka’s Board President’s XI at the Colombo Cricket Club Ground (CCC) in a bid to acclimatize to conditions after the chaos that took place back home in Indian cricket; over the Anil Kumble’s resignation and alleged rift with Virat Kohli, recent appointments of Ravi Shastri and Bharat Arun as a bowling coach.
As the sixteen-member team has reached Sri Lanka for the full fledged series on Wednesday evening to see the visitors receive a warm welcome from the hosts in Colombo, they would be banking on the performers including Kohli himself.
India opted for Abhinav Mukund as a top-order choice before left-handed batting sensation Shikhar Dhawan was named as a replacement for Murali Vijay, who was ruled out of the series after nursing wrist injury.
India also has a depth in the fast bowling department which includes Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma and Hardik Pandya has made a return to rolling over his arm in a bid to yield the goods for his side.
Players are expected to give best to catch the attention of the management and the skipper in particular. Moreover, it would not be ideal for India to go with all spin specialists.
As the SLC National Selectors Chief Sanath Jayasuriya would be keenly observing the performance of his players; India, on the other side, would be following the dressing room atmosphere including the performance of players over the ground.
The 28-year-old veteran batsman Virat Kohli, in his latest interview during the press conference in Sri Lanka, stated it’s always hard to play in Sri Lanka and they would play their game according to its merit which having an entire focus on the upcoming series against the Lions.
Kohli, who is shouldering the responsibility, has a new coach as Ravi Shastri at the helm to guide after Anil Kumble has played a pivotal role – so see India registering 12 wins out of 17 Tests under his guidance as a chief coach since June 23.
Interestingly, experienced top-order Rohit Sharma, who will return to Test cricket after 10 months, is expected to impetus if given a chance straight away in the opening Test alongside Shikhar Dhawan or Abhinav Mukund.
As India will face-off Dinesh Chandimal-led Sri Lanka in the first Test on July 28 at Galle, the selectors have opted for three slow-arm bowlers in the 16-men squad which includes left-arm unorthodox Kuldeep Yadav which having the slow nature of the pitch in considerations on the shores of Island.
India would be brimming with confidence, as the visitors have two spin specialists, in the form of Ravichandran Ashwin and ranked Number one Test bowler Ravindra Jadeja – to pile up the miseries for the hosts’ batsmen.
On the other side, KL Rahul, who recovered from shoulder injury, would be eyeing to score bulk of runs in the practice game which is scheduled on Friday-Saturday (July 21-22).
The 25-year-old Bangalore-born wicket-keeper batsman is averaging 44.44 in 17 Tests, after registering four centuries under his belt, has injured his shoulder in the fourth Test at Dharamsala, in March this year against Australia.
In the hindsight, Rohit missed most of the season which include all-important series against England and Australia series before the One-off Test against Bangladesh.
However, it is clear Kohli would announce the team after gauging the performance of the players alongside the team management.
It’s highly unlikely Sri Lanka would tinker with the squad which SLC board has announced for only Test against Zimbabwe.
In a two-day warm-up match, India can try the bench strength before taking on bleak looking Sri Lanka which has an exciting talent on an offer too.
For Sri Lanka wicket-keeper batsman Niroshan Dickwella and Asela Gunaratne could play a dominating role, as skipper Chandimal himself would be eyeing to score for his team before utilizing his bowlers according to the conditions.