India will play a white-ball series versus Sri Lanka, beginning with the T20Is on January 3. The last time these two sides met was in the Asia Cup 2022, when Dasun Shanaka and co. defeated the Men in Blue and knocked them out.
Though the likes of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and KL Rahul are absent in the T20I roster, India remains strong under Hardik Pandya’s leadership and has the capacity to outclass the Asia Cup victors.
Meanwhile, specific Indian players’ performances in the forthcoming series would be scrutinised. To save their spot in the team, these cricketers will need to put their best foot forward against Sri Lanka.
Three Indian players will be under pressure to perform well in the T20I series against Sri Lanka.
Number 1. Axar Patel
Axar Patel has a track record of success on the white-ball tour representing India. With his regular lines and lengths, the 28-year-old has stifled hitters and taken 34 wickets in 37 T20Is at an economy of 7.48. On the batting front, he has delivered key innings towards the bottom of the order, scoring 171 runs at a strike rate of 132.55.
However, in the T20 World Cup 2022, the great all-rounder was far from his best. Axar appeared in five games during the showpiece event, taking three wickets at an economy of 8.62. He had little effect with the bat as well, scoring just nine runs for the Men in Blue.
Axar will need to make amends quickly, or his position in the team may be jeopardised. He is largely competing for a backup spin-bowling all-rounder spot with Washington Sundar, who has been in excellent form recently. When India met Bangladesh in a three-match One-Day International series, the 23-year-old was outstanding with the ball, taking six wickets in three games at an economy rate of 3.50. In addition, he scored 67 runs in those appearances.
Sundar’s improving performances have increased the pressure on Axar, who will need to bring his A-game to the forthcoming T20I series against Sri Lanka.
Number 2. Harshal Patel
Harshal Patel has earned recognition for his exceptional death bowling skills and has been a key player for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League, taking 51 wickets in 30 games with an economy rate under 8. Despite being selected for the Indian T20I team to partner with Jasprit Bumrah, Harshal has struggled at the international level with 27 wickets in 24 T20Is, but with an economy rate of 9.13. Unfortunately, since his return from a rib injury, Harshal has had poor performances with just 4 wickets in 7 T20Is, conceding runs at a high rate of 10.43.
To stay in contention, Harshal must improve soon or face being left behind by the team management. Therefore, he must perform at his best in the upcoming T20I series against Shanaka and team.
Number 3. Sanju Samson
Sanju Samson is a top-notch batter in Indian cricket, renowned for his powerful and exciting style of play in T20 tournaments. In 138 games, he has amassed 3526 runs with a strike rate of 135.72. He has also excelled at the international level, hitting 296 runs in 16 T20Is at a strike rate of 135.15.
Last year, Samson was exceptional, scoring 284 runs in ten appearances in the 50-over format with a strike rate of 105.57 and 179 runs in six T20Is with a strike rate of 158.40.
Despite his impressive performances for India, Samson has not been a regular in the team and is currently behind Shreyas Iyer and Deepak Hooda in the T20I middle order. Therefore, he must continue to perform well to strengthen his case for a regular spot. With Iyer unavailable for the upcoming T20I series against Sri Lanka, Samson must take advantage of this opportunity.