Ever since he performed well for the Kolkata Knight Riders in last year’s IPL in UAE, the selectors have been keen to try out Chakravarthy on the international stage. They feel that with his mix of off-spinners, leg-spinners and carrom balls, the bearded Tamil Nadu tweaker could be India’s ‘surprise weapon’ in the T20 World Cup in UAE in October-November.
With his vast bag of variations, Chakravarthy — a discovery of the Tamil Nadu Premier League — can be unpredictable, and thus difficult to hit.
Having missed out on earlier opportunities due to injuries and other fitness issues, Chakravarthy would be keen to make the most of this chance, which is certainly his last shot at booking a berth in the squad in the T20 World Cup later this year. If the 29-year-old bowler doesn’t play now, then he can kiss his hopes of making the cut for the big event goodbye.
While Chakravarthy could replace Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav, who played the first two ODIs but was rested for the third, skipper Shikhar Dhawan said on match eve that like they did in the ODI series, India would look to play its strongest squad in the first two T20I matches, and clinch the series, before experimenting in the third ODI.
That means the likes of Devdutt Padikkal and Ruturaj Gaekwad may have to wait before getting their maiden international caps. The buzz is that batsmen Prithvi Shaw and Suryakumar Yadav may soon leave for England to join the Test squad.
As of now, the deadly Mumbai duo would both look to get some more runs on Sunday to enhance their reputation.
It would be interesting to see if coach Rahul Dravid persists with the experienced, but slightly off-colour Manish Pandey-who logged scores of 26, 37 & 11 in the ODI series, or finally shows him the door. Does he play both the ‘keeper-batsmen-Ishan Kishan and Sanju Samson-or choose one between them?
In bowling, regulars Bhuivneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar and Yuzvendra Chahal, who were all rested from the final ODI, return to the XI, which means that both leggie Rahul Chahar and left-arm seamer Chetan Sakaria- both impressed while taking five wickets against Sri Lanka on their ODI debut on Friday-could be left warming the benches again.
India would also be keen that all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who has done little on the tour with both bat and ball, find some form in the T20Is.
Having punched above their weight in this series, Sri Lanka would no doubt be buoyed by their thrilling three-wicket final in the final ODI, even as India played five debutants.
In Avishka Fernando, who stroked two consecutive half-centuries in the ODIs, Bhanuka Rakapaksa, Charith Asalanka and Chamika Karunatne-a dangerous batsman at No 8, they have the nucleus of a bright future when it comes to batting.
The performances of Wanindu Hasaranga, Praveen Jayawickrama and Akila Dananjaya against India in the ODI series show that Sri Lanka still have talent in the spin department. Amongst the pacers, Dushmantha Chameera has impressed with his pace and spirit.