India will be eyeing their third straight win in the ongoing Asia Cup when they take on Sri Lanka in their first match of the Super Four phase on Tuesday, September 6.
The Indian team qualified for the Super Four by finishing at the top of Group A, having won both of their matches against Pakistan and Hong Kong. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, defeated Bangladesh in a do-or-die encounter to book their berth in this phase as the second-placed team from Group B.
India eyeing a hat-trick of wins
Rohit Sharma and his men have delivered strong performances in both matches in thus tournament so far. They won by five wickets against Pakistan and then followed that up with a 40-run win against Hong Kong. A win against Sri Lanka will make it a hat-trick of victories for the Asian giants.
But India does have some concerns to address. Their top three batters — Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli — have struggled a lot against spin. Avesh Khan, who has been playing as one of the main pacers in Jasprit Bumrah’s absence, has proven expensive in both matches so far. So it won’t be surprising to see changes in these two areas.
Can Sri Lanka punch above their weight to knock down India?
To be honest, there is a wide gap between the quality of the Sri Lankan and the Indian team, and the latter is highly superior in terms of experience and skill set. So, Sri Lanka will naturally start on the backfoot in this match.
But the Lankans have already shown the immense talent they have in their squad. The likes of Kusal Mendis and Dasun Shanaka delivered match-winning barring performances against Bangladesh and they will be looking to deliver here once again. If their bowlers can back up the efforts of the batters, Sri Lanka do stand a chance of challenging India in this contest.
The Indian team has played 26 T20 international matches since the last World Cup and has won 21 of them while losing only four times. In fact, they are on a five-match winning run while going into this match against Sri Lanka. As far as head-to-head encounters against Sri Lanka are considered, India again have the upper hand with 17 wins in 25 matches.
They have played 13 T20 international matches since the last T20 World Cup and have won only thrice while losing nine times. That sums up how much they have struggled as a team of late. Their win against Bangladesh recently did add to their confidence but they are going to need much more than that to compete against India in this match.
Possible Playing XIs
Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Avesh Khan, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh
Danushka Gunathilaka, Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis (wk), Charith Asalanka, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Dasun Shanaka (c), Wanindu Hasaranga, Chamika Karunaratne, Maheesh Theekshana, Asitha Fernando, Dilshan Madushanka
Players to Watch
The Indian all-rounder has turned into India’s T20 MVP of late. He was already a good batter and now he has gone on to improve leaps and bounds as a bowler as well.
His performance against Pakistan, where he claimed three wickets and scored an unbeaten 33 off just 17 deliveries, is testimony of his quality as an all-rounder.
The wrist-spinner is one of the best bowlers in T20 format right now. Hasaranga has played 40 matches for Sri Lanka till now and has claimed 65 wickets already at an average of 14.41.
He has delivered impactful bowling performances in this Asia Cup already and will be eager to deliver once again in this contest against India.
Sri Lanka are a very talented side and have the potential to compete against top teams in the world. But India are highly superior in terms of quality and experience, and that’s why they will start as the favourites to win this contest.