THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Indian team has hit the road to the ODI World Cup, to be played at home later in the year, in some style. The Men In Blue have sealed the three match ODI series against Sri Lanka by winning the first two matches, turning the third game to be played here at the Greenfield Stadium on Sunday into a dead rubber.
But the inconsequential contest is crucial to a vast majority of players. The competition is intense, only that it is from within, and not so much from their rivals as the Indian players vie for a berth in that World Cup squad.
Barring skipper Rohit Sharma, Virat KohliHardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah (if he is fit), there are no certainties in this team. The others, who were part of the playing XI in the first two games, wouldn’t want to be rested here, while the bench-warmers in those two matches will be hoping to get a look-in. It will be interesting to see what changes the team management makes, given that the ODI and T20I series against New Zealand follow this series and the series against Australians comes right after that.
While the top order fired in unison in the first game, it was the middle order which bailed India out in the second ODI. The only batter who hasn’t converted his starts in the first two matches is Shreyas Iyer.
With Rohit and Kohli being picked only for the ODIs, it is unlikely that the think-tank will want to tinker too much with the batting line-up. The only debate will be whether to give Suryakumar Yadav a go in this game to see how the T20I batting superstar fares in the One-dayers. Ishan Kishan is likely to get his chance in the games against New Zealand, with KL Rahul opting out of the series as he is set to tie the knot later this month.
Hardik and Axar Patel have enhanced their reputation as allrounders in recent times but the workload of the priceless Hardik has to be monitored carefully during a World Cup year. With a spin-bowling allrounder in Washington Sundar at their disposal, Rohit has the luxury of playing him in this game in place of either Hardik or Axar.
Though he came in place of an injured Yuzvendra Chahal in the second ODI, left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav showed that he has rediscovered his mojo and the team management will be keen to give him an extended run.
The pacers had enjoyed bowling when the Greenfield stadium last hosted an international fixture, a T20I at the same venue against South Africa just four months back. The wicket that will be used on Sunday will be a different one and is expected to favour the batsmen, but it will have something in it for the bowlers as well.
The three Indian pacers – Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj and Umran Malik – should enjoy bowling on this wicket. The seamer who sat out in the first two games, Arshdeep Singh, claimed a three-wicket haul the last time India played here.