Colombo: Right-arm seamer Sandeep Warrier, who came on a tour as a net bowler, makes his T20I debut for India because of an injury to Navdeep Saini. This means they are even more depleted than they were on Wednesday but have at least won the toss. Shikhar Dhawan chose to bat first, stating at the toss that he is confident his bowlers can defend whatever his batters manage. Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka said he is happy to bowl first, having been successful doing so in the second match.
Kerala pacer Sandeep Warrier has been given his debut as India captain Shikhar Dhawan won the toss and chose to bat against Sri Lanka in the series-deciding third twenty20 International here on Thursday.
With wicket-keeper batsman Sanju Samson also in the side, it is the first time that an Indian XI has two Malayalis. Sandeep, who was originally in the squad as a net bowler was drafted into the playing XI in place of injured pacer Navdeep Saini.
Sandeep, who hails from Thrissur has become only the third Keralite to play T20I for India, with the first one being S Sreesanth. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka also replaced injured Isuru Udana with Pathum Nissanka.
Warrier, who was also a reserve bowler with the Indian team for the England series earlier this year at home, has an impressive bowling record in domestic cricket. For Kerala, Warrier was the leading wicket-taker at the 2018-19 Vijay Hazare Trophy, claiming 12 scalps from six matches, and also led the overall pack in group stages with 44 wickets from 10 games. At the 2019 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, Warrier had taken a hat-trick against Andhra, dismissing KV Sasikanth, Karn Sharma, and SK Ismail off consecutive balls in the final over.
When Kerala reached the Ranji Trophy semi-final for the first time ever, Warrier led the bowling chart with 39 wickets at an average of 18.33. He rattled Bengal in a game with 5/33, a spell that captivated the then-coach Dav Whatmore, to an extent that he compared his spell to that of greats Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel’s efforts in a Test match against Pakistan. He has played 57 First-Class games having picked up 186 wickets to go with another 66 scalps from 55 List-A matches.
That India is forced to pick from their net bowlers is because nine of their players have been put in isolation, after Krunal Pandya tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday, and eight of his close contacts have had to go into isolation. India played all 11 available players from the original 20-man squad, on Wednesday, but with Saini having seemingly hurt his shoulder attempting a catch, they have had to dip into their net-bowling reserves. Warrier has 53 domestic T20 wickets, with an economy rate of 7.29.
Sri Lanka has had to make a change due to injury. Seam-bowler Isuru Udana has gone out of the XI, and top-order batter Pathum Nissanka replaces him. On Wednesday, Sri Lanka had been awash with bowling options, with eight players coming to the bowling crease. Strengthening their batting is perhaps a valid strategic move even without the injury to Udana. Nissanka has played three T20s so far, with a high score of 24, and a strike rate of 116.
The series is tied 1-1 at present. There is a chance rain could interrupt play, but there should be enough cricket to constitute a match.
Sri Lanka: 1) Avishka Fernando, 2) Minod Bhanuka (wk), 3) Sadeera Samarawickrama, 4) Dhananjaya de Silva, 5) Pathum Nissanka, 6) Ramesh Mendis, 7) Dasun Shanaka (capt), 8) Wanindu Hasaranga, 9) Chamika Karunaratne, 10) Dushmantha Chameera, 11) Akila Dananjaya
India: 1) Shikhar Dhawan (capt), 2) Ruturaj Gaikwad, 3) Devdutt Padikkal, 4) Sanju Samson (wk), 5) Nitish Rana, 6) Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 7) Sandeep Warrier, 8) Chetan Sakariya, 9) Kuldeep Yadav, 10) Varun Chakravarthy, 11) Rahul Chahar
India won the first match while Sri Lanka equaled the series by winning the second T20 on Wednesday.