"We've got 11 players to choose from and all eleven are playing," said India coach Rahul Dravid on the eve of the second Test against Sri Lanka. As many as four debut caps were handed during the second T20I, which India lost by four wickets. There has been no dearth of opportunities for youngsters on this tour.
Much has been talked about India's bench strength and that has been put to test in the ODI and T20I series against Sri Lanka. And some players have really grabbed this opportunity with both hands, standing out with some noteworthy performances. These can prove to be really rewarding, given we have a T20I World Cup later this year.
Here, we take a look at a few players who have impressed on the Sri Lanka tour:
With the Australia tour, where he was dropped after playing a single Test, behind him, Prithvi Shaw appeared a man on a mission as he worked on his technique alongside former India batsman and his coach Pravin Amre. And he returned with a bang, becoming the leading run-getter in the Vijay Hazare Trophy 2020/21. This was followed by a commanding IPL season, which was indefinitely postponed in May, where he was striking at 166.48 and averaging 38.50.
Now, his India return has largely been fruitful too. Even in the ODIs, Shaw showcased his hitting prowess, amassing 105 runs from three ODIs at a strike rate of 125, the best among the Indian batters who played all the three games. He got dismissed for a duck in the first T20I and didn't feature in the next two games after Krunal Pandya tested positive for COVID-19.
Shaw was fearless in his approach against Sri Lanka. AP
Along with Suryakumar Yadav, he was set to fly for the England tour and would have been a potential opening candidate before the Krunal episode transpired, just highlighting the team management's faith in him.
He was fearless in his approach and is highly likely to be in the reckoning for India's T20I World Cup squad later this year.
The combination of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal (aka Kul-Cha) was on display again, and while Kuldeep fared better than his recent past performances, it was Chahal who proved to be the standout spinner for India in the ODI series. He finished as the leading wicket-taker, with five wickets, despite playing only two games. Conceding 5.10 runs per over, he was also among the most economical bowlers on show.
In the only T20I he played on the tour, he picked up only a single wicket but kept things really tight, maintaining an economy rate of just 4.75.
If he continues to bowl tidy spells in the remainder of IPL 2021, it will become really hard for the Indian selectors to look past him for India's T20I World Cup XI.
Here is one hungry batsman who is making every opportunity count. Having received a national T20I call up earlier this year against England, 'SKY' as he is known, carried right from where he left in the previous series, averaging 62 in three ODIs against Sri Lanka. While selectors can be flexible with his position in the batting order, he gets quick runs with great ease. Such was the case in the ODI series, where he finished with a strike rate of 122.77.
The shortest format, however, is where he will be keenly looked at, given his IPL performances over the years. In the first (the only) T20I he featured for India on the tour, he continued his rollicking form, smashing fifty off 34 deliveries.
Well known for bowling tight lines and moving the ball around upfront, Deepak lived upto his reputation on the Sri Lanka tour. He finished the ODI series with four wickets from two matches at an economy of 6.
He also showed that he can be a handy lower order batter, scoring an unbeaten 69 when India were in a precarious position and helping them seal the series with a win.
In the only T20I game where he featured for India, he bowled a fine spell of 2/24.
Although a regular feature in the ODIs, Dhawan was designated as a second choice opener in the T20Is, with KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma being the preferred ones as indicated by Virat Kohli in the T20I series against England.
The skipper did complete justice as the most experienced member of the side, finishing as the leading run scorer for India in the ODIs with an average of 64. His strike rate (88.88), however, is something that he will look to improve especially as he seeks to audition as an opener for India in the T20I World Cup.
The southpaw was in terrific form in IPL 2021 and didn't disappoint in the two T20Is against Sri Lanka too, scoring 86 runs at a strike rate of 110.25.