India were looking to start the New Year on a winning note in Guwahati, the venue for the first T20 game against Sri Lanka. Instead, rain played spoiled sport and forced authorities to call off the game without a ball being bowled. The three-match T20 series is now a two-match series.
India Win Toss
There were rumours floating around that the match in Guwahati might not take place due. There was unrest in the Assamese capital brought about by the on-going protests against the controversial CAA bill. However, the authorities made sure that everything went smooth as the stadium was packed to capacity.
Rain was persistent in the lead up to the toss. But it looked like the officials were going to proceed with play as they were happy with the outfield. Virat Kohli called right and decided to bowl first. However, rain pelted down for an hour after the toss and did too much damage to the outfield. The groundsmen worked hard with the super soppers and used steam irons on the pitch as the crowd patiently waited.
The officials made the right decision in the end and decided to abandon the game. India will have to wait a couple more days to get their 2020 campaign started right.
India Betting Favourites
The second T20 will take place at Indore on Jan 7 and India go in as the betting favourites with odds of 1.18. Sri Lanka have odds of 4.70. If India go on to win the toss at Indore, it is highly likely that Kohli will stick with the strategy of bowling first and then chasing.
India are playing a very strong squad and only two of their regular players are being rested. Rohit Sharma has been given a break and Hardik Pandya is still recovering from his injury. The batting looks strong and the focus will once again be on the number 4 and 5 positions. Rishabh Pant is likely to bat at number 4 and Shreyas Iyer will take the number 5 spot.
If Pant ends up with two more failures in this series, he is bound to feel the pressure again and so will the selectors as the Indian public have literally taken to social media to beg the selectors to drop Pant and give Sanju Samson a chance. Ravi Shastri should also think about moving Iyer to the number 4 spot as he is a better batsman than Pant and has the ability to play the big shots once he is settled in.
Manish Pandey is likely to slot into the number 6 role and it will be up to him to make the most of his opportunity and cement his place in the side with the T20 World Cup scheduled to take place in October 2020.
Bumrah Strengthens Bowling
India’s number one fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah, who missed quite a few games towards the end of 2019, is back. He hasn’t played any domestic cricket since recovery as the selectors were happy with his fitness.
His presence in the side is a big deal to Kohli as Bumrah is one of the best T20 bowlers in the world. The likes of Shardul Thakur and Navdeep Saini could be given an opportunity during this series. It will be up to both of them to perform and see if they can seal the spot of being the third seamer in the squad. Bhuvneshwar Kumar is likely to be the second choice after Bumrah.