BCCI president Sourav Ganguly made a big announcement today as he confirmed that India will be touring Sri Lanka in July to play a bilateral series. The Men in Blue are expected to play 3 ODIs and 3 T20Is in what is going to be India's first white-ball engagement since their limited-overs series against England before IPL 2021. Considering India's Test team are scheduled to play WTC Final and 5-match series in England, BCCI might well have to send a second-string squad for the Sri Lanka series.
Players who could be unavailable for SL tour
However, it could actually be a blessing in disguise for India as it might well end up as a perfect audition for the upcoming T20 World Cup, scheduled to commence in October. The following players, who could have featured in the white-ball team are expected to be unavailable for selection as they are part of the squad travelling to England:
Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Rishabh Pant, R. Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav, KL Rahul, Prasidh Krishna, Avesh Khan
With so many regular limited-overs players and even their first-choice replacements unavailable, it is going to be a challenging job for BCCI to select a winning squad with the players available for selection. Let us have a look at the probable squad for the Sri Lanka tour.
Openers - Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Devdutt Padikkal
The first name on this team list would be experienced campaigner Shikhar Dhawan, who might also be given the captaincy duties for this series. Apart from him, India have found some really exciting openers in the form of young talents like Prithvi Shaw and Devdutt Padikkal. Both of them were extremely impressive in the first half of IPL 2021 and could be in line to get a call-up for the Sri Lanka tour.
Wicket-keepers - Ishan Kishan, Sanju Samson
Talking about wicket-keepers, Sanju Samson could finally get one more opportunity to do justice to the enormous talent he possesses. He could be joined by Ishan Kishan who impressed everyone with his scintillating stroke-making during his debut series against England.
Batsmen - Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey
With so much competition in the batting department, it might finally be the opportunity for Suryakumar Yadav to get a longer run in the side. Shreyas Iyer, who missed IPL 2021 due to an injury could also recover by July and might get some crucial game-time in lead up to the mega-event. Meanwhile, Manish Pandey can also be recalled to the squad, especially for ODIs.
All-rounders - Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Rahul Tewatia
Among the all-rounders, Pandya brothers - Hardik and Krunal are expected to feature in the squad because of the value they can bring to the team. Meanwhile, Rahul Tewatia could also be a probable choice as he was also picked in the squad for the series against England.
Fast bowlers - Deepak Chahar, T Natarajan, Bhuvneshwar K, Harshal Patel
India have huge depth in their fast-bowling department and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has had some fitness concerns in past would be raring to make use of this opportunity. He is expected to lead the attack that could feature Deepak Chahar and T Natarajan. There is also a possibility of Harshal Patel getting a nod because of the wicket-taking abilities he displayed in the first half of IPL 2021.
Spinners - Rahul Chahar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Varun Chakravarthy
The spinners are going to play a huge role on turning wickets in Sri Lanka and India are expected to go with their leg-spin duo of Rahul Chahar and Yuzvendra Chahal. After mystery-spinner Varun Chakravarthy impressed again in IPL 2021, he might also get an opportunity provided he can pass the fitness tests.
India's probable squad for SL tour
The probable 18-member squad could be as follows: Shikhar Dhawan (c), Prithvi Shaw, Devdutt Padikkal, Ishan Kishan (wk), Sanju Samson (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Rahul Tewatia, Deepak Chahar, T Natarajan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Rahul Chahar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Varun Chakravarthy.
With so many talented cricketers in the country, the selection of the squad for the Sri Lanka tour won't be easy for the team management. Apart from the players mentioned above, there are many other players who are knocking on the doors after their fantastic performances in the domestic circuit and even IPL. Some of the players who could also get consideration are - Ruturaj Gaikwad, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi, Ravi Bishnoi, Sandeep Sharma, Kuldeep Yadav, Khaleel Ahmed and a lot more. It will be interesting to see who eventually gets an opportunity to wear the Indian cap in July.