Sanjay Manjrekar, the former Indian cricketer and cricket expert cum commentator feels the Indian team are firm favourites to win the ODI as well as the T20I series against Sri Lanka in their own den.
Although this Indian team has a number of fresh faces, Sanjay Manjrekar stressed that the presence of experienced players like Shikhar Dhawan and Hardik Pandya in their squad gives India the edge.
Sanjay Manjrekar Will Be Surprised If Sri Lanka Wins Even One Game
In his column for the Hindustan Times, Sanjay Manjrekar also acknowledged the fact that the selectors have given a long rope to Kuldeep Yadav and Manish Pandey. The duo is part of the squad, despite being unable to prove their mettle in the IPL 2021 phase one.
Sanjay Manjrekar feels there is enough experience in this Indian team to get the better of Sri Lanka. He further stated that he would be surprised if Sri Lanka won even a single game.
“In Shikhar Dhawan and Hardik Pandya, India has two game-changers with experience. I like the fact that the selectors have not been completely influenced by the IPL in their selection. Kuldeep and Manish Pandey get another chance to show that they still have enough for Indian cricket to stay invested in them. I will be surprised if Sri Lanka puts one over this Indian team,” Sanjay Manjrekar wrote.
Compared to the 2018 season – where he played 16 matches for KKR, Kuldeep Yadav featured in just 9 games for the franchise in 2019 followed by 5 matches in IPL 2020. He stayed on the bench in the first phase of IPL 2021.
Kuldeep Yadav last played in the three-match ODI series against England this year, but he was not able to take any wickets. In the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021, Kuldeep Yadav was not given a chance in playing XI by his franchise Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR).
Manish Pandey has played 5 games for Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL 2021 and amassed 193 runs averaging 48.25 with a comparatively below-par strike rate of 123.71. SRH was languishing at the bottom of the points table with 2 points (only 1 win from 7 IPL games).
Sanjay Manjrekar: Indian Team Touring Sri Lanka Isn’t A Second String Team
Given the restrictions due to COVID-19, the BCCI decided to send a separate team to Sri Lanka and let the main Indian team comprising of more experienced Test specialists stay back in England to prepare for the Test series.
However, former Sri Lanka skipper Arjuna Ranatunga stated that this was a ‘second-string’ Indian side and it was an insult to Sri Lankan cricket. Sanjay Manjrekar rubbished the statement and explained why the Indian team sent to Sri Lanka is not a ‘second-string’ side.
“This is not a second-string Indian team. India’s Test team is in England and in Sri Lanka we have the Indian T20 team. Barring only a few players, this is India’s full-strength T20 team. A second-string team is when an entirely different squad is put up by a country in the same format. I would like to think that India’s T20 cricket is in fine shape,” Sanjay Manjrekar concluded.
Shikhar Dhawan will captain the 20 members Indian side. Shikhar Dhawan was the leading run-scorer in IPL 2021 before it was postponed with 380 runs from 8 games averaging 54.28. Shikhar Dhawan was the 2nd highest run-getter in IPL 2020 too with 618 runs in 17 games. Bhuvneshwar Kumar will be the vice-captain of the team during the tour of Sri Lanka.
The announced squad included six uncapped players, five of whom received their maiden call-ups for team India. Ahead of the first match- Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Padikkal, Nitish Rana, Krishnappa Gowtham, Varun Chakravarthy, and Chetan Sakariya were in high spirits and looking forward to the series.