Pune T20I: India favourites to seal series against strugglers Sri Lanka

India will look to keep their perfect record against Sri Lanka in T20I series intact when they take on the visitors in the 3rd and final match of the ongoing series in Pune on Friday.

While India have not lost a bilateral series to Sri Lanka since Virat Kohli’s debut, their record against Sri Lanka in T20Is has been near perfect — 5 wins, 0 defeats and 1 draw in 6 series meetings so far.

If the one-sided contest in the 2nd T20I is anything to go by, expect India to continue their winning run against the islanders. After the series opener was abandoned in Guwahati due to rain and damp pitch, India thrashed Sri Lanka by 7 wickets in Indore on Tuesday.

India were clinical in all 3 departments. Even as Jasprit Bumrah looked rusty on his return to international cricket after a 4-month-long injury layoff, India flaunted their pace bowling reserves as Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur dented the Sri Lankan batting unit with 5 wickets between them.

India gunned down a 143-run target with 15 balls to spare after some power-hitting from KL Rahul, captain Kohli and Shreyas Iyer.

India are overwhelming favourites to clinch the T20I series. Sri Lanka are heading into the series finale on the back of 4 successive defeats while India have 2 successive series wins under their bag and are looking to begin the T20 World Cup year with another one.

Focus will once again be on Shikhar Dhawan as the India opener struggled to get going in the 2nd T20I. Dhawan is under considerable pressure, considering KL Rahul’s improved form with the bat. If he is to keep his place in the XI when Rohit Sharma returns, the left-hander needs something special sooner than later.

India vs Sri Lanka – 3rd T20I

India are unlikely to tinker with their bowling line-up despite Yuzvendra Chahal warming the bench. Kuldeep Yadav, who is back among the wickets, seems to be hitting peak form slowly but surely and the management would want to give the left-arm wrist-spinner more game time.

On the other hand, Sri Lanka will need an inspired performance if they are to even test India in Pune. Barring Kusal Perera, none of the other members of the visiting team looked threatening in Indore.

Injury concerns have only made the situation worse as all-rounder Isuru Udana has been ruled out while top-order batsman Oshada Fernando also suffered a blow to his hand in Indore.

Sri Lanka might be forced to include their veteran all-rounder Angelo Matthews who was not named in the XIs in the 1st 2 T20Is on his comeback run in T20Is.

India have lost a match each in their last 3 T20I series at home but Sri Lanka need their seniors, including captain Lasith Malinga, to step up and help them avoid another series defeat against their neighbours.

Pitch and Weather prediction

While there is no threat of rain for Friday in Pune, the pitch at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium spoted a tinge of green on Thursday. It is expected to be a good contest between bat and ball but dew will play a factor in the evening.

Records to watch out for in 3rd T20Is

Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal and R Ashwin are tied at the top of the wicket-takers list for India in T20I cricket with 52 each. Both Bumrah and Chahal have an opportunity to set a new Indian record on Friday.

Virat Kohli needs 1 run to complete 11,000 runs as captain in international cricket (all formats combined). He will become the second only Indian captain after MS Dhoni to get to the landmark.

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