Having crowned themselves the number one team in Test rankings, India would look to assert their supremacy in the shortest format as well when they clash against Sri Lanka in the first Twenty20 International on Wednesday.
The 2-0 triumph and the number one Test ranking also gives India a psychological edge over the visitors, who are still licking their wounds after being spanked by an innings by the home team in two consecutive Test matches.
India have made a few changes in their squad, resting pace spearhead Zaheer Khan and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and calling up youngsters Ashok Dinda and R Ashwin.
With Test specialists Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman not considered any more for the limited-over clashes, Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan and Rohit Sharma would shore up the middle-order along with Yuvraj Singh and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Starting with Virender Sehwag, India have such an array of stroke-players who can simply whip the bowlers around and cart them for sixes and fours with ease and the batting gives the hosts a clear edge.
Gambhir would be eager to get back into the groove at the new VCA Stadium in Jamtha after skipping the Mumbai Test to attend his sister’s wedding in Delhi.
After being in the Test mode for most part of the month, Dhoni and company are eager to switch gears.
“There are a lot of ODIs to be played in the near future, the T20 World Cup is coming (in April-May, 2010 in the West Indies), so we will shift to that right now,” Dhoni said after leading India to the top of the ICC Test rankings.
The Lanka bowlers would need to come out with something innovative to restrict the hosts’ batting line-up and put a stop to their losing streak on the tour.
The tourists have brought in right-arm sling-action bowler Lasith Malinga, who missed the Test series because of an injury, to strengthen their pace bowling attack which was exposed thoroughly in the Test series.
The visitors have also brought in all-rounders Chintaka Jayasinghe, Kaushalya Weeraratne and Muthumudalige Pushpakumara to play only the two T20s.
Their choices have increased for this form of the game with Angelo Mathews finally showing form with his fine knock of 99 in the Mumbai Test.
The islanders would also be hoping that their flamboyant, veteran opener Sanath Jayasuriya – who has joined the squad for the second part of the tour – and in-form opener Tillakaratne Dilshan would be their answer to the Sehwag and Gambhir combination at the top.
Lanka have not yet made up their mind whether the 40-year-old Jayasuriya, who is aiming to make the World Cup his Swansong, would open their innings.
Skipper Kumar Sangakkara had said earlier that Jayasuriya would bat down the order if the situation demanded despite the fact that he has been a very successful opener against all opposition, including India.
“He has been very successful against India as opener and against all opposition too. But right now he has a different role to play for us in the side, which will make him currently a performing and match-winning player. Whether he will bat at top or down in the middle, all these options can be considered,” he said.
“Our responsibility towards the team and towards Sanath is to make sure when he plays he becomes a match winner and get the best out of him. He’s willing to make that change. It is an exciting time to play a new role,” he said.
With India resting Zaheer, another left-armer in Ashish Nehra would lead their attack with S Sreesanth and Ishant Sharma likely to partner him while the spin options are Yusuf Pathan, Pragyan Ojha and the uncapped Ashwin.
In the only previous T20 clash between the two teams, in February this year at Colombo, Jayasuriya (33) and Dilshan (61), who led the side, opened the Lanka batting and put on 59 in less than six overs.
That contest was won by India when the Pathan brothers – Yusuf and Irfan – guided them home from 115 for 7 chasing 171 with a stand of 59.
Things have changed since then as Irfan has lost his place while Yusuf is still a part of the T20 team, the format through which he made his international entry.
The teams (from):
India: MS Dhoni (Capt.), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik, Yusuf Pathan, R Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Ashish Nehra, S Sreesanth, Ashok Dinda, Sudeep Tyagi, Pragyan Ojha.
Sri Lanka: Kumar Sangakkara (Capt.), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Chinthaka Jayasinghe, Sanath Jayasuriya, Mahela Jayawardene, Chamara Kapugedara, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Ajantha Mendis, Muthiah Muralitharan, Muthumudalige Pushpakumara, Dilhara Fernando, Kaushalya Weeraratne, Chanaka Welegedara.
Umpires: Amiesh Saheba and Shavir Tarapore .
Third umpire: Sanjay Hazare .
Match Referee: Jeff Crowe .
Match Name: 1st T20I
Teams: India vs Sri Lanka
Venue: Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium .
Time: 1730 IST
Channel: Neo Cricket