India, who have whitewashed Sri Lanka in both the Test and ODI series, will once again start as the heavy favourites for the one-off T20 International.
India would be aiming to cap off their super successful tour of Sri Lanka with another ruthless victory in the one-off T20 International in Colombo, on Wednesday.
Any other result than India's resounding win looks highly unlikely, consdering the visitors' rampaging run in the preceding Test and ODI series, where they whitewashed the hosts 3-0 and 5-0 respectively.
The game provides India an opportunity to fine-tune team combination ahead of the upcoming T20 home series against Australia and New Zealand. In total, India would play nine T20 Internationals this home season and all contests will be a three-match series.
India are on an experimentation drive ahead of the 2019 50-overs World Cup and one player they could have tried is Delhi's wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, who was surprisingly not included despite Shikhar Dhawan flying back home to tend to his ailing mother this past weekend, leaving Ajinkya Rahane to open the innings in the fifth and final ODI and also in the lone T20 match.
Pant has previously featured in two T20Is against England and West Indies, but was kept out of this tour on account of his poor run for India 'A' in South Africa, as stated by chief selector MSK Prasad after the team selection.
In the lone T20 against West Indies at Jamaica, Virat Kohli had opened the innings with Dhawan with Pant slotting in at No.3. As such, their dual absence will necessitate atleast a couple changes from the Indian skipper.
Rohit Sharma slots back in automatically as the opener, whilst KL Rahul and Manish Pandey will be expected to bring up the middle order.
Kedar Jadhav scored a much needed half-century in the final ODI, and he could be afforded another chance to prove his credentials as India prepare for a long limited-overs’ schedule at home.
All-rounder Hardik Pandya was rested for the fifth match on Sunday, and he too is expected to return to the playing eleven.
Pandya hadn’t featured in India’s last T20I against the West Indies, with Kohli opting for five full-time bowlers back in July. His return to the playing eleven could allow for a bowling combination similar to the ODIs, with four full-time options to choose from.
Jasprit Bumrah is a definite pick among the bowlers, whilst it remains to be seen if Shardul Thakur will get another go after proving expensive in the last match at Bhuvneshwar Kumar's expense.
Kohli does like to field leg-spinners in the shortest format, and he played both Yuzvendra Chahal and Amit Mishra against England at both Nagpur and Bengaluru. He is expected to repeat this trick with Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav this time around.
Even so, there were no sure hints coming forth as the Indian team enjoyed an additional off day ahead of the game and did not practice ahead of the match, on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka have made a few changes to their original T20 squad after suffering the 5-0 whitewash. Leg spinner Jeffrey Vandersay and seam-bowling all-rounder Dasun Shanaka are prominent additions.
Pacer Suranga Lakmal makes a comeback after injury after he had been ruled out ahead of the second Test in August. Mystery spinner Akila Dananjay has also been added to the squad.
Vandersay had made an impression for Sri Lanka in the World T20 last year, but suffered from injury issues since and hasn’t been a regular feature of the side.
Surprisingly, left-arm leg spinner Lakshan Sandakan has been left out of the squad. Pacers Vishwa Fernando and Dushmantha Chameera have also been dropped after unimpressive showings in the recently concluded ODI series.
However, veteran pacer Lasith Malinga has managed to retain his place.
The Lankan team management had talked about resting Kusal Mendis as he was fatigued, and he has been duly left out.
The spotlight will be on skipper Upul Tharanga though. This will be his first T20 match in-charge after Angelo Mathews gave up captaincy post the loss to Zimbabwe prior to the Indian tour.
Tharanga was suspended during this ODI series due to poor run-rate, but refused to step down after the ODI debacle against India.
Instead, he has taken a six-month sabbatical from Test cricket and was omitted from Lanka’s preliminary squad announced on Monday for the Pakistan series.
This is being as a sign that he wants to concentrate on the limited-overs’ formats and a bid to overturn Sri Lanka’s fortunes in ODIs and T20s at least.
India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane, Kedar Jadhav, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (w/k), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shardul Thakur.
Sri Lanka: Upul Tharanga (captain), Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella (w/k), Dilshan Munaweera, Dasun Shanaka, Milinda Siriwardana, Wanindu Hasaranga, Akila Dananjay, Jeffrey Vandersay, Isuru Udana, Seekkuge Prasanna, Thisara Perera, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal, Vikum Sanjaya.