The World T20 preparations continue in earnest as India, after a thumping win over Australia, look for another emphatic series victory, this time over Sri Lanka. To do that, India will want to begin the series on a winning note when the two teams meet for the 1st T20 in Pune on Tuesday.
India were thoroughly dominant against Australia in the T20s, winning the first couple of matches by batting first and defending a big total, before clinching the final one with a well-timed chase.
The batting seems to be bang-on for the team at the moment, while the bowlers showed signs of finding their rhythm, which will be crucial for India, if they are to win the World T20 title at home.
India will go into this T20 series against Sri Lanka with a bit of a weakened batting lineup, considering Virat Kohli has been rested. Kohli was the man of the T20 series against Australia, and even if Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan remain in top form, the Indians will miss the wonderfully-talented right-hander's services -- – such is the importance of Kohli, that, on current form, you almost take a half-century away, every time he doesn't play.
Ajinkya Rahane and Manish Pandey are MS Dhoni's options as Kohli's stand-in, and since Rahane is the one who was picked in the World T20 squad, it only makes sense to give the Mumbaikar a go. Apart from that, though, India are a pretty settled T20 unit, with Jasprit Bumrah and Ashish Nehra providing sound pace ammunition, while R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh and Pawan Negi are as good a spin options to have as any.
Sri Lanka have sent in a depleted squad for this T20 series, with Angelo Mathews – their one true world-class player in all formats -- Lasith Malinga and Rangana Herath all nursing injuries. What that does, though, is give some of the youngsters an opportunity to shine, and there is no better format to express yourself than the T20s.
Despite being the reigning World T20 champions, nobody is giving Sri Lanka a chance in this series, so, with that burden of expectations off, they might just be able to play some pressure-free cricket.
India are expected to not just win, but also dominate this Sri Lanka side, which means the pressure is definitely with the home team. Having said that, however, this India T20 team, led by Dhoni, who will play in his new IPL home ground, for the most part, are vastly experienced, and that pressure should not really pose too much of a problem.
Where to Watch Live
India vs Sri Lanka 1st T20 is scheduled for a 7.30 pm IST (7.30 pm SLST, 2 pm GMT, 9 am ET) start.
Star Sports 1, Star Star Sports HD3, Star Sports 3 and Star Sports HD1 will provide live coverage of the T20 match in India. The Star Sports network are also the broadcasters for the series in the entire Indian subcontinent, including Sri Lanka. Hotstar and Starsports.com are the online live streaming options for the India vs Sri Lanka match in India.
Willow TV and Willow TV Online are the places to be to watch the game live in the US.
OSN Sports Cricket HD will provide live TV coverage of the India vs Sri Lanka 1st T20 in the Middle East and North Africa, while the match action can also be live streamed on OSN Play.
Viewers in South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa can tune into SuperSport 7 to watch the match live on TV, while the live streaming option is on SuperSport Live Video.
Audience watching the match late in the night in Australia can do so on Fox Sports 1, while the live stream option is on Foxtel.