With India having completed a 3-0 whitewash of the Lankans in the Test series, the focus must shift now to the ODI series starting on Sunday, August 20. Though the Indians are high on confidence at the moment, Sri Lanka are a much more portent outfit in limited overs cricket.
India have made a few changes to their ODI squad with big names like Yuvraj Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja having been rested for the series. That has opened the door for a few youngsters who must now grab this opportunity.
Here are 5 Indian players to watch out for in this series.
#5 Yuzvendra Chahal
Considered by some to be an immensely talented spinner, Yuzvendra Chahal has been largely unlucky to have not gotten the opportunities he deserves. So far in ODIs, he has made appearances in only a low-profile 3-match series against Zimbabwe, coming away with impressive figures of 3 for 25 from the second match.
In T20s, his skill and control are well-known thanks to his successful IPL campaigns. Over the years, he has done a good job for RCB on a home-ground that is well-known as a batsman’s paradise, where he has regularly bowled well during the Powerplay and slog overs.
His best performance in the Indian jersey came earlier this year in a T20I against England at Bengaluru where he came away with match-winning figures of 6 for 25.
The prolific pair of Ashwin and Jadeja have been rested for the series because they have been too inconsistent in ODI cricket for some time now. Chahal is now hungry to grab his opportunities with both hands and he might well be the one to watch out for.
#4 KL Rahul
The talk going around in Indian cricketing circles is that KL Rahul one of the most prolific young talents they have unearthed who could be a mainstay in the Indian middle order. Having graduated successfully from the IPL to international cricket, Rahul is one of the few young players who now play in all three formats for India.
A batsman with a classic technique and temperament, the greatest thing about Rahul is that he knows how to shift a gear from Tests to ODIs and looks comfortable in every format and every situation.
A long injury layoff did not do him any favours but he is now fit and raring to go. This might well be the series when Rahul firmly establishes himself in the Indian middle order. He will certainly be one of the players to watch out for.
#3 Manish Pandey
When Manish Pandey scored that match-winning century against Australia at the SCG, the general feeling was that India have found their next best finisher. But Pandey went slightly off the boil and has struggled to replicate his success ever since.
An injury at a crucial moment was a huge disappointment for him as it forced him out of the Champions Trophy earlier this year. But back in form now having scored some runs for India A, Pandey now has a big opportunity to seal a spot in the lower middle order.
He will also be under a lot of pressure because his inclusion in the squad has come at the cost of Yuvraj Singh. This is a big series for Pandey and given the form he is in, he should not disappoint us.
#2 Hardik Pandya
Unless you have been cut-off from the world of cricket, you will admit that the story of the meteoric rise of Hardik Pandya in the last year and a half has been nothing less than phenomenal. Once considered another talented youngster at the IPL, Pandya has shown that he has it in him to be successful at the international level.
From playing that famous counter-attacking innings against Pakistan in the final of the Champions Trophy earlier this year to having a successful debut series in Tests against Sri Lanka, the journey of Pandya from a promising youngster to a dependable all-rounder is now complete.
The good performances in the Test series will do Pandya’s confidence a world of good as he prepares to turn on the heat in the ODIs. He is after all the fast bowling all-rounder that India have long been searching for. Looking ahead to this series, we can expect some fireworks from him both with bat and ball.
#1 MS Dhoni
There is perhaps no cricketer and captain who has done as much for India as MS Dhoni. But once the charismatic fan favourite with a broad smile and flowing hair, Dhoni now polarizes opinion like no other cricketer with a lot of naysayers asking him to call time on his career.
Though Dhoni has time and again expressed his desire to play on till the 2019 World Cup, the omission of Yuvraj Singh is being looked upon by many as a veiled warning to him.
With MSK Prasad also saying that Dhoni should keep performing to stay in the team, the pressure is piling up on the former Indian captain. But whenever he has found himself under pressure, Dhoni has always found a way to let his bat do the talking.
With this being almost a do-or-die series for him, this might bring out the very best from Dhoni. He will be the one under close scrutiny in this series.