- Shikhar Dhawan-led India is in Sri Lanka for a limited-overs tour
- The tour comprises three ODIs and as many T20Is in the Island nation, which will now begin from July 18
- Sri Lanka haven’t defeated India in an ODI series in the last two decades
India and Sri Lanka will lock horns in a three-match ODI series, from July 18 (Sunday), which will later be followed by as many T20Is — with all the games to be held at the famous R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo in the island nation.
The Shikhar Dhawan-led Team India may be deemed a second-string side, but it comprises enough star power in all departments to come on top of Sri Lanka, who have succumbed to an all-time low currently in world cricket. The Lankans have returned home from a winless England tour and will now face a new-look Indian team, with the other white-ball regulars in full-time captain Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, KL Rahul, etc. in the United Kingdom for England Tests, from August-September.
Even the Sri Lanka Cricket Board (SLC) announced a 25-member provisional squad for the India series, with Dasun Shanaka replacing Kusal Perera as captain over contractual issues in Lankan cricket at present. With several off-field disturbances and regular on-field failures, Sri Lanka face a second-string Indian team in July, however, they will still have their back against the wall due to wholesome unrest in the squad.
Sri Lanka also haven’t won a bilateral ODI series versus India since 1997 (August 17), over two decades. Hence, Shanaka & Co. will have a huge task to challenge the Indians, comprising many uncapped IPL stars. Here’s a look at where world cricket was when Sri Lanka registered its last ODI series win over the Men in Blue –
— Australia had won only one World Cup at that time.
— Sachin Tendulkar had completed only 25 international tons. He went onto retire with 100 centuries overall.
— Sourav Ganguly was yet to make his captaincy debut.
— The likes of Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, AB de Villiers, Virender Sehwag, Kumar Sangakkara, etc. have not even made their international debuts. Mahela Jayawardene had not debuted in limited-overs.
What all glorious changes have taken place in the gentlemen’s game since SL’s 1997 ODI series triumph versus India
— T20 format has come into existence.
— India won its second World Cup title, maiden Champions Trophy and T20 World Cup.
— IPL’s birth.
— Plethora of double tons in ODI format.
— SL itself won its second ICC title, during the T20 World Cup in 2014.
— Women’s cricket has seen a rapid spike in the recent years.
For the unversed, India-SL have locked horns in as many as 18 bilateral series, with the Lankans winning only two of them and three ending in a draw. Thus, Dhawan-led India will start as favourites, keeping the overall stats and current squad depth in mind, versus a lowly-ranked Sri Lanka in the three ODIs in Colombo.
After the ODIs, the action will move to the three T20Is, as the tour will conclude on July 29.