THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, Jan 14: A series clean sweep in sight, Indian team is unlikely to tinker with its batting line-up but skipper Rohit Sharma could be tempted to look at some of his bowling options during the final ODI against Sri Lanka on Sunday.
Having already sealed the series with contrasting wins — a comfortable one while defending in Guwahati and a hard-fought one while chasing in Kolkata — Rohit’s men wouldn’t mind a bit more clinical effort against the island nation in last match of the tour.
A 3-0 series win before taking on a better-quality opposition in New Zealand in less than 72 hours time will keep the team in good stead.
Workload management has been the buzz word in Indian cricket over the past couple of years and while it has advantages, there has been distinct pitfalls with players not finding rhythm after being given periodic rests.
That could precisely be the reason why the Indian skipper might just not play Ishan Kishan at the top or Suryakumar Yadav in the middle order in the final game.
All the top five batters, including all-rounder Hardik Pandya will not mind some more batting time against a decent Sri Lankan attack at the Greenfields Stadium which is known to assist bowlers.
Hence the possible changes could happen in bowling line-up.
With India playing six 50-over games in a space of 14 days — three against Sri Lanka and as many against New Zealand, Mohammed Shami’s workload will be of primary concern for the Indian team management.
In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, Shami is expected to shoulder the responsibility of leading the Indian attack during the Border-Gavaskar Trophy Tests, so his workload would need the maximum monitoring.
He is expected to bowl close to 125 to 130 overs across the four Tests, fitness permitting.
Arshdeep Singh, the left-arm seamer, could be tried out for variations as he also needs some game time after getting the rough end of the stick against the Lankans in one of the T20 games.
If the wicket is conducive, Arshdeep could be more than a handful for the Lankan batters with his ability to get ball back into the right handers or straighten it on middle stump channel.
Kuldeep Yadav had once again got a Player of the match award and while he replaced an injured Yuzvendra Chahal (shoulder niggle), it would be interesting to see what Rohit and head coach Rahul Dravid would do if the right-arm wrist spinner gets fit.
Kuldeep has endured the misfortune of being left out after winning the ‘Player of the Match’ award in Chattogram Test and in case Chahal is fit, he is still considered as the first choice wrist spinner.
Axar Patel, who has been team’s ‘go to’ man across formats, will be taking a break for a personal commitment during the New Zealand series.
If the team wants to check out Washington Sundar before the series against Black Caps, the third ODI is an ideal platform.
In the batting department, Shubman Gill, who looked the most comfortable on a tricky Eden Gardens pitch before throwing it away, wouldn’t like to let his guard down, knowing that Ishan Kishan is presenting himself as a strong contender for the opener’s role.
As far as the Sri Lankan team is concerned, the biggest takeaway from 50-over series would be unearthing a quality talent in opener Nuwanidu Fernando, who hit a fifty on debut.
India: Rohit Sharma (c), Hardik Pandya (vc), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Ishan Kishan (wk), Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Umran Malik and Arshdeep Singh.
Sri Lanka: Dasun Shanaka (c), Kusal Mendis (vc), Pathum Nissanka, Avishka Fernando, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Wanindu Hasaranga, Ashen Bandara, Maheesh Theekshana, Chamika Karunaratne, Dilshan Madushanka, Kasun Rajitha, Nuwanidu Fernando, Dunith Wellalage, Pramod Madushan and Lahiru Kumara.
Match starts: 1.30 pm IST. (PTI)