Ahead of the second Twenty20 International (T20I) against Sri Lanka, India team director Ravi Shastri said he is aiming at trying all possible combinations to get the best squad prior to the forthcoming World T20 at home next month.
Having whitewashed Australia 3-0 in their own backyard, the Indians were expected to do well at home against the Lankans as they prepare to host the World T20 in March-April. But the youthful Sri Lankan team handed them a rude wake-up call as the island nation defeated India by five wickets in the first match.
“The ideal scenario would be to give most of the guys who are part of the World Cup squad a run. That will be the endeavor, but you will have to see what the conditions are, what the state of the series is and accordingly decide,” Shastri said at the pre-match press conference.
The green pitch in the first T20I at Pune saw the hosts struggle against some quality pace bowling by the Lankans. Debutant pacer Kasun Rajitha proved to be the surprise package, troubling the Indian batsmen with pace, swing and appreciable movement off the pitch to end up with three top order wickets.
The 22-year-old enjoyed a memorable debut, bagging two wickets in his very first over in international cricket. The other Lankan pacers including Dasun Shanaka and Dushmantha Chameera also made merry on the green wicket.
“If the pitch is good we say it’s good. If the pitch does a lot we will say, it does a lot. Why should we be scared of saying what we feel? It’s very clear that it did a little too much but we should have adapted well,” Shastri said.
“No excuses for losing the match, but we should have scored 140. It would have been a good competitive score on that surface,” the former India skipper said.
The Indians will be eager to restore lost pride on Friday. Although the batting department proved to be a flop show, the Indian bowlers gave a good account of themselves. Veteran pacer Ashish Nehra made a strong case for a spot in the squad for the upcoming World T20 with some excellent work that saw him finish with figures of 3 for 21 in three overs.
“It’s a confident side, they played some very good cricket in the last 18 months or two years, they played excellent cricket and that’s why you see the results. If we lack consistency we wouldn’t have become number one in Tests, number two in T20,” he said.
Young medium-pacer Jasprit Bumrah did not manage a wicket, but gave away only 19 runs in four excellent overs. Star offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin put in another good effort in the first match and gave the Indians hope with a couple of late wickets.
“There was a little bit for the bowlers, it turned, it seamed, there was bounce, it was two-paced. So it wasn’t easy because when you come with the flow of Australia, you could see, the batsmen faltered. But no excuses and as I said instead of 180, 160, 140 might have been just good enough,” Shastri said.
“They will have to adapt, it’s again practice. They will have to get the bodies behind the ball, ground fielding might not be that easy there (in Ranchi), some uneven bounce, but you should use this practice to see what can be done,” the 53-year-old added.