Rohit Sharma-led India are unlikely to lower their guard as they take on Sri Lanka for the first of three T20 Internationals at Cuttack on Wednesday. With the Test and ODI series in pocket, India will aim for another dominant performance and look to bag the T20 series as well. Without the services of skipper Virat Kohli, India did not have a dream start to their ODI series campaign at Dharamsala but bounced back in style as stand-in skipper Sharma took the attack to the opposition with his fearless batting. Having scored a record third double century in ODI, he will eye to seal off the T20I series as well.
Like their home series, Sri Lanka have by and large been outgunned by India, barring their lone brilliant bowling performance in Dharamsala ODI, which left the Indian batsmen widely exposed in seaming conditions.
Sri Lanka had their best chance in the last ODI at Vizag but they collapsed from 136/1 to be bundled out for 215.
A resilient India quickly got into the act after an inspirational stumping by MS Dhoni. After which, the new spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav ran through the Lankan middle-order as they claimed three wickets each.
However, T20 is a different ball game and India would look for a smooth transition to the shortest format, having endured a batting disaster in the first one-dayer.
India do not have a happy memory of the solitary T20I at the Barabati Stadium. The Men in Blue had folded for 92 against South Africa in 2015 as crowd trouble brought infamy to the venue.
India lead Sri Lanka 7-4 on head-to-head count and are yet to lose against them in the last four outings, the hosts will aim to give a better account of their batting.
India's batting will heavily rely on skipper Rohit, who will have KL Rahul for company at the top.
Having lost his first match as captain, Rohit's record double hundred led a 141-run rout in Mohali and he will look to continue that form in the shortest format.
A good start will be crucial for India to minimise the workload on the middle and lower order, which will be steered by Dhoni.
The T20 squad will also see different players in action. Saurashtra left-arm pacer Jaydev Unadkat, who last played in a T20I against Zimbabwe in June last year, has been recalled and India have three first-timers in Washington Sundar, Basil Thampi and Deepak Hooda.
India: Rohit Sharma (capt), K L Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Siraj, Basil Thampi, and Jaydev Unadkat.
Sri Lanka: Thisara Perera (capt), Upul Tharanga, Angelo Mathews, Kusal Janith Perera, Danushka Gunathilaka, Niroshan Dickwella, Asela Gunaratne, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dasun Shanaka, Chaturanga de Silva, Sachith Pathirana, Dananjaya De Silva, Nuwan Pradeep, Vishwa Fernando, Dusmantha Chameera.
(With PTI inputs)