It is unlikely that the Indian team will make any changes to its batting line-up for the final one-day international against Sri Lanka on Sunday because a clean sweep of the series is in sight, but Rohit Sharma, the team’s captain, may be tempted to look at some of the other bowling options he has available.
After clinching the series with two very different victories — an easy one when defending in Guwahati and a tough one while chasing in Kolkata — Rohit’s team would welcome a more clinical performance against the island nation in the last match of the tour.
If the squad can sweep the series with a 3-0 score before heading to New Zealand to face competition of a higher calibre there in less than three days, they will be in good shape.
The term “workload management” has been all the rage in Indian cricket for the past few years. While this strategy does have its merits, there have been clear drawbacks, such as players struggling to recover their rhythm after being allowed to take periodic breaks from their training.
That is the very reason why the Indian captain might well decide not to play Ishan Kishan at the top of the order or Suryakumar Yadav in the middle order in the game that decides the series.
All of India’s top five batsmen, including the all-rounder Hardik Pandya, have no problem with the idea of getting further at-bats against a good Sri Lankan bowling attack, even if the Greenfields Stadium is notorious for favouring bowlers.
Because of this, there is a chance that the bowling line-up will be altered.
Mohammed Shami’s workload will be of key worry for the Indian team management given that India will be playing six 50-over games in a span of 14 days, three of which will be against Sri Lanka and as many as they will be against New Zealand.
Shami is set to shoulder the task of leading the Indian attack during the Border-Gavaskar Trophy Tests while Jasprit Bumrah is sidelined, therefore his workload will require the utmost amount of supervision.
If his fitness holds up, it is anticipated that he will bowl somewhere in the range of 125 to 130 overs over all four tests.
After getting the short end of the stick against the Sri Lankans in one of the T20 games, the left-arm seamer Arshdeep Singh might be tried out for variations as he too needs some game time. This would also satisfy his desire for game time.
Arshdeep might be more than a bother for the Sri Lankan batsmen if the ground is conducive to his ability to get the ball back into the right-handers or straighten it on the middle stump channel.
It will be intriguing to watch what Rohit and head coach Rahul Dravid would do if the right-arm wrist spinner comes fit. Kuldeep Yadav had once again received a Player of the Match award, and while he replaced an injured Yuzvendra Chahal (shoulder niggle), he had received the accolade.
Kuldeep has had the misfortune of being left out after winning the “Player of the Match” award in the Chattogram Test, and even if Chahal is healthy, he is still thought of as the first choice wrist spinner for the team. This unfortunate turn of events occurred after Kuldeep won the award in the Chattogram Test.
Axar Patel, who has been the ‘go to’ player for the squad across all formats, will be taking a break during the series against New Zealand due to a personal commitment that he has.
The third one-day international is an excellent opportunity for the squad to evaluate Washington Sundar before the start of the series against the Black Caps.
In the field of batting, Shubman Gill, who appeared to be the most at ease on a challenging Eden Gardens pitch before throwing it away, wouldn’t like to let his guard down because he is aware that Ishan Kishan is positioning himself as a strong contender for the job of opener.
The discovery of a great talent in opener Nuwanidu Fernando, who hit a fifty on his debut, would be the most significant benefit of the 50-over series for the Sri Lanka team. This would be the most important takeaway from the series.