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Shikhar Dhawan to lead India On Shri Lanka Tour

INDIA TOUR

India named a strong 20-man main squad for the six-match limited-overs series against Sri Lanka starting in Colombo from the 13th of July. The continent will be led by veteran batsman Shikhar Dhawan while Bhuvneshwar Kumar will be his deputy. Most of the players selected are on expected lines with hardly any surprises. There were six uncapped players also named in the squad five of whom received their maiden call-ups for India – Chetan Sakariya, Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Nitish Rana, and K Gowtham were all called for national duty for the very first time while Varun Chakravarthy was picked for the third time since IPL 2020.

India’s Sri Lanka tour comprises six matches: three ODIs (on July 13, 16, and 18), followed by three T20Is (July 21, 23, 25). Former India captain Rahul Dravid has been confirmed as the head coach for the tour. Although the BCCI did not announce the entire roster of support staff on Thursday when it made public details of the squad, which will have five reserve bowlers.

India will have to field a team in Sri Lanka shorn of its premier players because the main squad, captained by Virat Kohli, is currently in England getting ready for the inaugural World Test Championship final against New Zealand (June 18 onwards), followed by a five-Test series against England starting in August. That makes this the first instance of two senior Indian men’s teams operating simultaneously in bilateral series.

Padikkal became the first Indian to hit four consecutive List A centuries. While opening for Karnataka during the Indian domestic Vijay Hazare 50-over tournament this year. Padikkal, who made his IPL debut with the Royal Challengers in IPL 2020. He has 668 runs in 21 IPL matches at an average of 33.40 and a strike rate of 131.75.

Ruturaj Gaikwad was one of the stars for Chennai Super Kings in their worst ever IPL campaign in 2020 in the UAE. He topped the batting averages chart for CSK scoring 204 runs in 6 matches with 3 fifties. He took his batting to a higher level in IPL 2021. And formed a match-winning partnership with Faf du Plessis at the top of the order. He aggregated 196 runs in 7 matches at a strike rate of almost 130 with two fifties. He gave a Player of the Match performance against the Sunrisers with 75 off 44 deliveries setting up the chase for CSK.

The biggest surprise in the squad, though, is Sakariya. The left-arm fast bowler from Saurashtra was bought by the Royals in the auction before the 2021 IPL for INR 1.2 crore (USD 164,000 approx.). Which proved to be an inspired investment. Sakariya, 23, has picked up seven wickets in seven IPL matches so far. His victims include MS Dhoni, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, and Rana.

Chakravarthy was the leading wicket-taker for Tamil Nadu in the 2018-19 Vijay Hazare Trophy. There he bagged 22 wickets in just 9 matches. His biggest weapon is his unpredictability. He has several variations in his repertoire – the off-break, leg-break, googly, carrom ball, flipper, top-spinner, and a slider – which makes it impossible for the batsmen to read him off the hands.

Bowling all-rounder, Krishnappa Gowtham from Karnataka made headlines. He was purchased by CSK for a massive sum of INR 9.25 crore in the mini-auction. In February 2021 making him the most expensive uncapped player in IPL history. Gowtham has two unique qualities in limited overs’ cricket – first, is his ability to restrict the opposition batsmen. He has an economy rate of 4.73 in List A cricket and 7.6 in T20 cricket.

Nitish Rana has been the constant for KKR in the last few seasons. Scoring big runs at a high strike rate at the top of the order. The left-hander has scored more than 300 runs every season between 2017-2020. He aggregated 344 runs in 14 matches at a strike rate of 146.38 in 2019. 352 runs in as many matches at a rate of 138.58 in 2020. Rana also started the 2021 season with a bang. He produced a Player of the Match performance in KKR’s opening fixture against the Sunrisers in Chennai.


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