India is set to field a second-string side for the Sri Lankan tour
India is likely to field a second-string squad for the limited-overs tour to Sri Lanka in July as most of the top Indian cricket stars will be on Test duty in the United Kingdom. And India can afford to do so as it has an abundance of talent, courtesy of IPL.
Yes, IPL has made it possible for India to field not one but two second-string sides, and still win a series. Hence, India will see a new captain for the Sri Lanka tour as both Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma will be on Test duty.
Besides, the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, KL Rahul too will be unavailable. So, what is the possible squad India could field for the three ODIs and three T20Is in Sri Lanka?
Batsmen who are likely to play in India vs SL series
Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Devdutt Padikkal (openers)
India has abundant openers to choose from, thanks to the IPL riches. Prithvi Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan are the first-choice openers for the Sri Lankan tour as both had set the IPL 2021 on fire for Delhi Capitals. Devdutt Padikkal of RCB, who struck his maiden IPL ton recently, is likely to be the third-choice opener.
Other batsmen who could represent India
Nitish Rana, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav
Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav of Mumbai Indians would be given the first preference for a spot in the middle-order. Ruturaj Gaikwad, who had a decent IPL 2021 season as CSK opener, could also be included in the squad as India would go for more options due to the Covid-19 situation. Nitish Rana of KKR could also be rewarded for a place in the national team.
Keeper/captain: Sanju Samson
Sanju Samson would be the first-choice keeper in the squad. If Samson is unavailable or injured, Ishan Kishan would take up the keeper’s role. Samson, who led for the first time in IPL for Rajasthan Royals recently, could also be handed the captaincy duty in the Sri Lankan tour. If Samson is injured or not available, the most senior batsmen – Shikhar Dhawan – could be asked to lead the team.
All-rounders who could be part of India vs SL series
The Pandya brothers, Rahul Tewatia
Hardik was probably left out of the Test squad to give him a vital role in the Sri Lankan tour. In the absence of big names, Hardik is set to play the senior player’s role, and finish off games for India. He would be supported his all-rounder brother Krunal. However, Rahul Tewatia of Rajasthan Royals could be competing for Krunal’s place. And only performance will make a player claim his spot in the XI.
Spinners who could play in India vs SL series
YS Chahal, Rahul Chahar, Varun Chakravarthy
Chahal is the first-choice spinner in the Indian XI. However, the emergence of Rahul Chahar of Mumbai Indians would give the RCB spinner a tough competition. Varun, who was earlier selected for the Australian tour last year but could not make it due to injury, would have to wait for his chance in the playing XI.
Fast bowlers who could represent India
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Jaydev Unadkat, Navdeep Saini
Deepak Chahar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar would be the new-ball bowlers in the XI as they can take a few quick wickets early in the innings. Left-arm bowler Unadkat could be the first-change bowler. Saini, who played just one game in IPL 2021, could make it to the squad as well. But he would get to be part of playing XI only if either of the first-choice pacers are not available.
Harpreet Brar and Deepak Hooda
If India goes for a big squad to cover for Covid-related issues and injures, then Harpreet Brar of Punjab Kings, who had a great first match in IPL 2021 against RCB, and Deepak Hooda of PBKS, who impressed with his big hitting in the tournament, could also make it to the squad.
Unlucky to miss out: Kuldeep Yadav
Yadav has lost favour not only in the Indian team, but also with his IPL franchise KKR, and could miss the squad despite him being a talented spinner. Kuldeep needs to work out on his game and be more competitive to knock on selectors’ doors again.
Possible squad: Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Devdutt Padikkal, Nitish Rana, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Sanju Samson, Hardik Pandya, YS Chahal, Rahul Chahar, Varun Chakravarthy, Krunal Pandya, Rahul Tewatia, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Jaydev Unadkat, Navdeep Saini.