The Indian team for the limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka in July was announced recently. While Shikhar Dhawan will lead the team in the island nation, Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been named as his deputy. Since the main team is in the UK for the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand and the five-match Test series against England, a number of fresh faces have been named in the squad for the Sri Lanka series. We profile five such players who have a great chance to make an impact in Sri Lanka during the short series.
1. Devdutt Padikkal
Devdutt Padikkal is among the brightest young batting talents in the country. He was the second leading run-scorer in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, hammering 737 runs from seven games at an average of 147.40. During the tournament, he also became the first Indian to smash four consecutive hundreds in List A cricket. Padikkal has been impressive in the IPL as well. In his debut season last year, he won the emerging player award, smashing 473 runs for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in 15 matches. This season as well, he struck a brutal hundred in a 10-wicket thrashing of Rajasthan Royals.
2. Ruturaj Gaikwad
Maharashtra batsman Ruturaj Gaikwad is a rhythm player. Those who have observed him in the IPL would be aware of the same. Gaikwad struggled in the initial games played last season, but once he got into his groove, he registered three consecutive half-centuries. Something similar happened this year as well. He began tentatively but then cracked two impressive fifties. Aggression is one of Gaikwad’s strengths. He has an impressive List A record, having scored 2681 runs in 59 matches at an average of 47.87.
3. Nitish Rana
Nitish Rana has been one of Kolkata Knight Riders’ (KKR) bright sparks in the IPL. He is amazingly versatile – a batsman who can open the innings and also bat in the middle-order if needed. Rana has a wide variety of strokes and, when in form, can prove extremely dangerous. The 27-year-old has the experience of 122 T20 matches, in which he has scored 2846 runs at a strike rate of 136.36. The Delhi cricketer has played 67 IPL games and has smashed 1638 runs at a strike rate of 133.82.
4. Chetan Sakariya
Saurashtra left-arm pacer Chetan Sakariya would have had bitter-sweet feelings following his maiden call-up to the Indian team. He lost his father to COVID-19 just after the suspension of IPL 2021, where he made an impressive debut for Rajasthan Royals. Bowling with genuine pace and a smart brain, he claimed seven wickets in seven matches at a strike rate of 23.14 and an economy rate of 8.22. One of the victims was none other than the legendary MS Dhoni. More than the wickets he claimed, it was Sakariya’s refreshing attitude that was impressive. He could bring out a smile even after being hit for boundaries. Sakariya has some genuine talent, evident from his stunning spell of 5 /11 in a Syed Mushtaq Ali encounter against Vidarbha.
5. Sanju Samson
Kerala batsman Sanju Samson has been knocking at the doors of Indian cricket for a while now. And, he has even been provided with opportunities but has failed to grab those. In Australia, he kept throwing his wicket away with some needles strokes, trying to be over-aggressive. It was no surprise that Samson was dropped from the team after the Australia series. Samson’s short international career makes for rather poor reading. In seven T20I, he has only managed the highest score of 83 at an average of 11.85 and a strike rate of 118.57. There has never been any doubt about Samson’s ability with the bat. His stupendous hundred in the IPL earlier this year was the latest proof. Samson though needs to start converting opportunities at the international level.