India in Sri Lanka Half a dozen debut hopes

Colombo, July 14 : Though team coach Rahul Dravid has said that India's limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka may not throw up many new options for the T20 World Cup, scheduled to be held in October-November, it may still prove to be a platform for some youngsters to cement their places in the India team in near future. India's limited-overs squad plays Sri Lanka in three ODIs and three T20 Internationals, from July 18. Here is a look at six players, who we may be seen in India colours: Devdutt Padikkal: The left-handed opening batsman scored 737 runs at an average of 147.4 in the Vijay Hazare one-dayers. He also impressed in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 -- 473 runs in 15 matches and in IPL 2021 -- 195 runs in six matches. He is the favourite to take over the opening slot from Shikhar Dhawan, once the Delhi left-hander retires. Almost everyone speaks highly of his ability to score runs. Ruturaj Gaikwad: The Maharashtra batsman has been picked for his performances in the IPL and due to the backing of former Indian team and current Chennai Super Kings skipper MS Dhoni. He scored three fifties in six IPL 2020 matches and two fifties in seven IPL 2021 matches. But his returns in Vijay Hazare One-day Trophy this year were ordinary -- just 182 runs in five matches. His performance in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 competition was even poorer -- 94 runs in five matches at an average of 18.8. He may get only limited chances at best, so he may have to make the best use of them. Nitish Rana: The Delhi left-hander has been a vital part of the Kolkata Knight Riders side, even opening for them although he was brought up as a middle-order batsman. He has been in great form of late not just in IPL but also in other domestic tournaments like the Vijay Hazare One-day Trophy. Rana aggregated 398 runs in seven Vijay Hazare one-day games at an average of 66.33 to be among the top five run-getters. He made 201 runs in seven IPL 2021 games and 352 in 14 IPL 2020 games. It will be interesting to see where Dravid plays him. Since there are already too many openers, he may be batted at No. 3 or No. 4. Krishnappa Gowtham: The off-spin bowling all-rounder from Karnataka has been a surprise and his selection, just like Gaikwad, has raised eyebrows. Gowtham hasn't done much of note in recent domestic tournaments, including the IPL. He played just two IPL games, aggregating 42 and picking one wicket. He aggregated 31 in four Syed Mushtaq T20 games and picked four wickets. In the Vijay Hazare one-dayers, he aggregated 28 and took three wickets in two matches. The fact that he has been playing domestic cricket for a long time and has spent time at India team nets may have got him in the side. Varun Chakravarthy: The Tamil Nadu spinner, known to bowl mystery spin, has been successful with Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and has pushed the original protagonist of 'mystery spin' at KKR, Sunil Narine, to the background. Chakravarthy picked 17 wickets in seven matches of IPL 2020. He also picked seven in seven games of IPL 2021. His economy has been impressive. It was 6.84 last season and 7.82 this season. But fitness remains a massive drawback for him. He was selected to tour Australia but had to pull out because of injury (labrum tear on shoulder) which he did not reveal. Chetan Sakariya: Picked ahead of his Saurashtra statemate, the more senior and acclaimed left-arm pacer Jaydev Unadkat, Sakariya's story is inspirational. For someone, who had to pay for his own cricket coaching by working at his uncle's stationery shop, bagging a hefty Rs 1.2 crore IPL contract with Rajasthan Royals and then making Indian cut, all within a few months, is a big achievement. The left-armer bowled a few good spells in domestic competitions, including IPL without being extraordinary. But the fact that he is a left-armer, the need of the hour for India, may help him cement his place in India set-up. /IANS


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