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India vs Sri Lanka 3rd T20I: Testing bench strength, burying ghosts of 2015 on agenda for home team

The last time India and Sri Lanka played a T20I in Pune, Sri Lanka had upset the hosts after bowling them out for 101 - one of the worst performances by India in this format in recent years.

By: Sports Desk | Updated: January 9, 2020 8:09:12 pm
Virat Kohli laughs during an India training session in Pune on Thursday (AP Photo)

India and Sri Lanka will lock horns in the third and final T20I of the bilateral series in Pune on Friday, with the home team having earned an unbeatable 1-0 lead in the series in Indore after the first match was abandoned.

Track Record: There are several subplots to the encounter, not least being the history of these two sides at this venue. The last time India and Sri Lanka played a T20I in Pune, Sri Lanka had upset the hosts after bowling them out for 101 – one of the worst performances by India in this format in recent years. Ravichandran Ashwin (31) had been the highest scorer in the team in that match.

While track record at the ground may favour Sri Lanka, little else does. Isiru Udana, who was dubbed by Lasith Malinga as the team’s main bowler, has been ruled out of the match.

Team News: Angelo Mathews, who has returned to the T20I setup after a long absence, could slot into the team as a result. He will be playing his first T20I since August 2018 if he does. Mathews has an average of 78 in T20Is in India.

As far as India’s gameplan goes, the big question is whether the bench strength will be tested or if Virat Kohli will stick to a winning combination. Manish Pandey and Sanju Samson, who have found chances in the XI hard to come by, could be given a chance to shine. Yuzvendra Chahal, who was not included in the XI in the first two matches, could also be given a game.

Jasprit Bumrah and Shikhar Dhawan will also be looking to assert themselves in the 3rd T20I. Both India players, returning to the side in the Sri Lanka series, had less than sterling figures to show from the 2nd T20I.

The No.3 question: Whether Shreyas Iyer continues to bat at No. 3 will also be interesting to see. In recent matches, India have preferred to have Kohli at No. 4 and have experimented with Rishabh Pant, Shivam Dube and Iyer at the No. 3 role.

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