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Dhawan likely to lead in Lanka

Wednesday, 12 May 2021 | PTI | New Delhi

First-choice Iyer’s injury opens door for Shikhar to captain India

Veteran opener Shikhar Dhawan and flamboyant allrounder-turned specialist batsman Hardik Pandya will be locked in a two-way fight for India captaincy if Shreyas Iyer doesn’t get fit in time for the white-ball tour of Sri Lanka in July.

India’s limited overs specialists will be playing three T20 Internationals and as many ODIs in the island nation during the second half of July, when big guns like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma will be in England for a marquee five-match Test series.

“It is still not clear if Shreyas will recover fully and will be match-fit in time for tour of Sri Lanka. Normally, a surgery of this scale along with rest, extensive rehab and training to get back in shape takes around four months,” a senior BCCI source privy to selection matters said.

“In case Shreyas was available, he would have been the automatic choice for captaincy.”

It’s only logical that the two contenders for captaincy are 35-year-old Dhawan, who has had good “one and half IPLs” in last two seasons and Pandya junior, who is one of the most accomplished match-winners.

“Shikhar has had two very good IPL including this curtailed one and being the senior most among those who are available for selection, he is a very strong contender. Also he has been a solid performer for India for past eight years,” an official said.

As far as Hardik is concerned, his reputation as a white-ball match-winner can’t be discounted either.

“Yes, Hardik hasn’t been regularly bowling for MI or India in recent times. However, he is the man with x-factor and among options available. He is miles ahead of his peers in terms of being an impact performer. And who knows, may be extra responsibility brings the best out of him.”

Pandya was included in the four-Test series at home against England so that his bowling workload is increased keeping the England tour in mind but it is learnt that the Baroda man is unlikely to bowl more than an odd over or two in the shortest format or ODI in near future.

“Hardik, after his back surgery to cure stress fracture, is not the same bowler anymore. He was a fast medium bowler before injury but to bowl at a brisk 135 kmph plus pace consistently, it could impact his back.

“So he is focussing more on his match finishing skills,” a person in the know of things said.

Matches in Colombo

Colombo’s R Premadasa Stadium will host all the matches in India’s upcoming limited overs series against Sri Lanka.

“We plan to host the entire series at one venue. As of now, it has been decided that the Premadasa Stadium will host the fixtures. Obviously, it depends on how the situation is around that time,” Arjuna de Silva, Sri Lanka Cricket’s (SLC) Administrative Committee chairman, told Sportstar on Monday.

“With the Covid situation fluid, we cannot allow fans yet, so all the matches will be closed-door affairs,” De Silva said.

India are reportedly set to arrive in Sri Lanka for the series on July 5 and, after the team completes its week-long quarantine, will play the ODI series starting on July 13. The T20I series will begin on July 22.

“As of now, we will stick to the protocol where the players will have to undergo hard quarantine for the first three days and in the next four days, they will be allowed to train. However, if there are any revised guidelines by the Health Ministry around that time, we will have to follow that,” he added.

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