India were at the eighth position in the ICC T20 rankings before they handed a 3-0 drubbing in a T20 series to Australia recently Down Under. After that whitewash, India catapulted to the No.1 position, which was previously occupied by Sri Lanka.
Now the MS Dhoni & co will play a three-match T20 series against Sri Lanka at home starting from Tuesday, 9 February.
Much has been spoken about India's T20 side after their outstanding performances against Australia. It was an all-round effort from the Indian team that helped them achieve the unbelievable feat of whitewashing Australia at their backyard, which no other team could do in 140 years of cricketing history.
The selectors of the BCCI decided to rest Virat Kohli, who was adjudged player of the series against Australia, for the Sri Lanka series. Quite an apt decision it was, as they will want their best player to continue with his run of form in the Asia Cup T20 as well as in the ICC World T20, which is scheduled to start in March.
Pawan Negi has been included in the T20 squad for his all-round skills. Negi has been subsequently picked for the Asia Cup T20 and ICC World T20 squads as well. The left-arm all-rounder has been rewarded for his brilliant performances in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy recently. Negi has also done well in the past under the leadership of MS Dhoni while he used to play for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL.
Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Ashish Nehra, Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah have also retained their places in the squad. Virat Kohli has been replaced by Manish Pandey, who is also in good touch with his willow. Pandey is brilliant on the field as well.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka have sent a depleted squad for the T20 series against India. The absence of their prime players like Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Rangana Herath and Nuwan Pradeep might just hurt them against the upbeat India.
Sri Lanka recently lost to New Zealand 2-0 in a T20 series. They lost the Test and the ODI series as well in New Zealand. A series win against the world No. 1 side in the upcoming series will give them a major boost ahead of the Asia Cup and the ICC World T20 2016.
Dilhara Fernando has made his way back into the squad after five long years. He had last played for Sri Lanka in the ICC World Cup 2011.
Unfortunately, Tillekaratne Dilshan will not be available for the first T20 of the series against India as he is yet to recover from his hand injury.
Stand-in captain Dinesh Chandimal will look to put up a good show in the forthcoming series. The wicketkeeper-batsman will be aware of the strengths of the hosts and would plan his tactics accordingly.
With the conditions and the crowd backing the India players, MS Dhoni and his men will be right on top when they square off against Sri Lanka in the upcoming T20 series. A thrilling T20 series is on the cards for the fans of both neighbouring nations.
Squads for the T20 series:
India: MS Dhoni (C&wk), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Manish Pandey, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra, Harbhajan Singh, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Pawan Negi.
Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (C&wk), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Seekuge Prasanna, Milinda Siriwardana, Danushka Gunathilaka, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Asela Gunaratne, Chamara Kapugedera, Dushmantha Chameera, Dilhara Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Binura Fernando, Sachithra Senanayake, Jeffrey Vandersay.