Jasprit Bumrah was sidelined for close to five months after being diagnosed with a stress fracture on his back. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
The year of the 20-20 is here. The World T20 will be played in Australia in 2020 after a gap of four years. It is the time when teams will be playing majority of Twenty20 Internationals in order to gear up for the marquee tournament in October. India will be playing a total of 15 Twenty20 Internationals under the tournament and it begins with their first match against Sri Lanka at Barsapara. What adds to the value of the series will be the return of India's ace pacer Jasprit Bumrah, who has not played any competitive cricket ever since being laid low by a stress fracture to his back after the tour of the West Indies. Bumrah's return will be a welcome boost to the Indian pace bowling stock that has been rotated effectively in the last couple of months.
With Mohammed Shami rested and Deepak Chahar as well as Bhuvneshwar Kumar sidelined due to injuries, the onus is on Bumrah to lead the pace bowling attack that will comprise of Shardul Thakur and Navdeep Saini. In 2019, Virat Kohli had avoided playing Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal in the same side for majority of the games.
In 2020, this could change as India looks for stability. With Rohit Sharma rested against his favorite opponents, KL Rahul will have a new partner in Shikhar Dhawan, who is himself coming off an injury. The batting continues to be top heavy and if there is one area of concern for India, it is the middle order with Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant not having gotten much time in the shortest format. India would be making a big mistake to underestimate Sri Lanka, who whitewashed the world number one raned Pakistan 3-0 in their own den in what was a very surprising result. However, their fortunes took a massive dip when they were whitewashed by Australia and they will be heading into the series knowing the need to build momentum begins against a side where they have struggled. Sri Lanka have lost five consecutive games in India in Twenty20 Internationals and they will be hoping to arrest the momentum in the three-match series.
Washington Sundar is still work in progress and he would like to put up performances that can ensure that only one among Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal can be picked in playing XI at any given point of time. Shivam Dube is a big hitter for sure but whether his seam up stuff can withstand the onslaught on docile tracks till Hardik Pandya is fully fit and back in action is yet to be seen. The lingering question on Rishabh Pant's consistency with Sanju Samson having already warmed the benches for six straight T20 games and the invisible presence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni might tempt Kohli to try something different in the first match.
Sri Lanka have relied heavily on Kusal Perera, who was their leading run-getter with 100 runs from three matches in Australia in October-November. They would also look forward to the return of former Sri Lankan captain, Angelo Mathews, who last played a T20I against South Africa in August 2018. Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Oshada Fernando and Danushka Gunathilaka were their batting mainstays in their 3-0 win in Pakistan in October as they will look forward to return among runs. Leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga led the bowling in Pakistan with eight wickets from three matches at an average of 9.87 and could be effective on a sub-continent deck again.
Stats and weather
Barsapara hosted a Twenty20 International in 2017 against Australia but India lost that match which did not please the fans as they stoned the Australia team bus on the way to the hotel. Guwahati is slowly getting back to normalcy after protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Both teams arrived in heavy security and one hopes for normalcy during the game.
The weather forecast is not looking too promising for Guwahati on Sunday. There is a 40 percent chances of rain and it could happen during match time. If the weather stays away, then one can expect plenty of runs on a flat pitch.