Will Nidahas series lose its sheen sans Kohli & Co? | Daily News


Will Nidahas series lose its sheen sans Kohli & Co?

Both India and Bangladesh have named their squads for next month’s Nidahas trophy T20 tri-series to celebrate Sri Lanka’s 70th year of Independence, but some of the big names are missing especially in India’s line-up which could take the sheen off the tournament.

T20 is especially associated with India whose Indian Premier League (IPL) has produced some outstandingly talented cricketers for them across all formats.

However with the amount of international cricket India is playing today the Indian Cricket Board to prevent player burn out has rested as many as six regulars namely Virat Kohli the Indian captain, former captain MS Dhoni and exciting young players like Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah – all match winners on their day.

Rohit Sharma has been handed the task of leading India in the absence of Kohli and the team apart from Sharma comprises seven players who helped India complete a 3-0 whitewash of Sri Lanka in the three-match T20I series in India last December. On that occasion too Kohli was rested and Sharma led India.

The seven players are: Lokesh Rahul, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Jaydev Unadkat, Yuzvendra Chahal, Washington Sundar and Mohammad Siraj.

However India has included batsmen Shikhar Dhawan (who will be vice-captain to Sharma) and Suresh Raina – both of whom didn’t figure in the series against Sri Lanka. A player of Raina’s quality has not been able to guarantee a regular place in the Indian side having appeared in only six T20I for his country in the past two years.

Such is India’s talent that even without some of the big guns like Kohli and Dhoni they are still a strong unit to go and win the Nidahas trophy. So neither can Sri Lanka nor Bangladesh treat them lightly just because some of their key players have been rested.

India of course will find Sri Lanka a totally different side from the one they played three months ago. On that occasion Sri Lanka were drifting in stormy seas like a ship without a rudder and suffered a battering from all sides. With the arrival of Chandika Hathurusingha as head coach in December, the Lankan team seems to have settled into a match-winning unit as was displayed in their recent tour to Bangladesh where they won across all three formats defeating the hosts in the one-day tri-series final, the Test series and in the T20I series.

Hathurusingha’s presence in the dressing room and at practices has given the team renewed confidence and belief to win and bring the best out of the players which was something that was amiss in the recent past.

Shikhar Dhawan is one player who foresaw Sri Lanka’s improvement in the near future. In his assessment of the Lankan team in August last year Dhawan who had powered India to a thumping nine-wicket win in the first ODI at Dambulla said, “This is a young side and they are in transition period where all the boys will mature. In international cricket you need to have that experience. The young boys are good and with time they will get better that’s what I feel.”

Even South African-born fielding coach Nic Pothas who was trusted into the position of interim head coach following Graham Ford’s resignation said that he could bring about a turnaround of the team’s fortunes if given a free hand.

“For me, if we were left alone and you could work with this group of players, you could get some stability and consistency over six months, you’d see massive improvements. These are seriously gifted players.”

It was a statement which Pothas was to retract less than 48 hours later apparently under pressure from Sri Lanka Cricket with the words: “We are in good shape at the moment, a couple of very good training days and the boys are in very good spirits. We are very much focused on the process of policies and procedures that are in place which would stand us in good stead into the future.”

If Sri Lanka Cricket has learnt its lessons from the past they would do well to let Hathurusingha run the show the way he thinks is best for the team. He has already shown his hand that without outside interference and pressure he can deliver the goods.

Hathurusingha’s presence is not only a shot in the arm for the national cricket team but a lifeline for the present set of administrators whose survival and the chance of being re-elected to office for another two-year term depends heavily on the national team’s performances which before his arrival had sunk to its lowest level. Hathu is the savior not only for the Lankan team but for Sri Lanka Cricket in general.

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