India's limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka is all set to commence from July 13. Although there are plenty of things to look forward to in this series, skipper Shikhar Dhawan and coach Rahul Dravid would have to strike the perfect balance before they go out on the park for the first ODI. Since it is a side that is studded with talented youngsters, it could be a good headache to have for the Indian think tank to try and finalise the XI for the bilateral competition. Moreover, it is also expected that if the team manages to win the series with a match to go, they could probably give chances to more players. That being said, the team would look to field their strongest XI in the first game which can go on to set the tempo of the series.
Here is an attempt to try and figure out the possible options team India can go ahead with in the ODIs against Sri Lanka.
Top-order- Shikhar Dhawan (c), Prithvi Shaw, Suyakumar Yadav
While Shikhar Dhawan picks himself as the captain and opener, Prithvi Shaw is likely to get the nod as his partner. Although Devdutt Padikkal hasn't done too bad either, Dhawan and Shaw have been superb for the Delhi Capitals in IPL 2021 and also provide a left-right combination at the top of the order. Given the kind of stroke makers these two are, Team India would be confident of posting any total.
At number three, Suraykumar Yadav appears to be the team's best bet. SKY has been a proven match-winner for Mumbai Indians as well as Mumbai in the domestic circuit. Moreover, he has scored 173 runs in just 7 matches of IPL 2021 and also impressed one and all with a fifty against England on his T20I debut.
Middle-order- Manish Pandey, Ishan Kishan (wk), Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya
This could be a huge series for Manish Pandey. If Pandey fails to make it count, selectors may be tempted to look beyond him. Despite having his moments of brilliance, he has somehow not been consistent enough but given that he is a senior cricketer, he could be trusted for the role at number 4. Pandey scored 193 runs in five innings for Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL 2021 and would be determined to make a mark in this series. He could be in at number 4 followed by Ishan Kishan.
Sanju Samson was standing ahead in the queue for a long time but did not make the best use of it when his opportunity came with the national team. In contrast, Ishan Kishan grabbed his chances with both hands in his debut series against England and so should be keeping his place in this XI.
At numbers 6 and 7, Hardik Pandya and Krunal Pandya could be the trusted members. However, a lot will depend on whether Hardik is fit enough to bowl regularly. If Hardik does not contribute with the ball, the management might be forced to play a Varun Chakravarthy in place of Krunal to incorporate a proper bowling option.
Bowlers- Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Navdeep Saini
The team wouldn't want to experiment with their bowling department too much. While vice-captain Bhuvneshwar Kumar will spearhead the attack, he is likely to be aided by Deepak Chahar, Yuzvendra Chahal and Navdeep Saini. The bowlers may be rotated as the series progresses but this could be the attack that takes the field for the opening ODI. Although Kuldeep Yadav could be another contender, he may not be the team's first choice given his recent performances haven't been too impressive.
Meanwhile, other options like Chetan Sakariya are likely to get a game at some stage during the series as the team is also looking at a larger pool of players, keeping in mind the T20 World Cup later in the year.