IND v SL T20Is | Pandya, Dravid face tough calls in opener against Sri Lanka

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Mumbai, Jan 2: The New Year heralds a hectic season in an ODI World Cup year for the Indian men’s cricket team, which embarks on a whirlwind of matches in the first quarter of the year, oscillating between white-ball and red-ball cricket.

First off for the Men in Blue will be a three-match T20I series against neighbours Sri Lanka followed by three 50-over encounters with the same opponents.

With New Zealand set to reach the country in the middle of the month -- for three T20Is and as many ODIs -- and Australia following suit in February, India will end up playing 6 T20Is, 9 ODIs and four Test matches (all against Australia as part of Border-Gavaskar Trophy) by March end. And a few days after that, the players will get in with their respective franchises for the Indian Premier League, which will end in May.

India will kick-start the hectic first quarter of the year with a Hardik Pandya-led team taking on Sri Lanka in a three-match T20I series, starting with the first of which will be played at the Wankhede Stadium here on Tuesday. The two teams will meet in Pune (January 5) and Rajkot (January 7) in the remaining two matches of the T20I series.

It will be a crucial match for both India and skipper Hardik Pandya, who will be standing in for Rohit Sharma for the second time this season and will have Suryakumar Yadav as his deputy.

The national selectors have rested senior players like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and K.L. Rahul and the team management will be testing players for key slots like opener -- someone to partner Rohit Sharma as K.L Rahul’s performance in recent times has come under the scanner -- a second wicketkeeper and also pace bowlers as seniors like Jasprit Bumrah is still not available as he is recuperating from an injury while Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s performance has been up and down in recent times. Mohammad Siraj, who played the T20I series against New Zealand, has not been included and India would be hoping to blood Shivam Mavi and Mukesh Kumar in one of these matches.

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