January 10: India v Sri Lanka – 3rd T20I in Pune
Our XI: Kusal Perera, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Washington Sundar, Avishka Fernando, Angelo Mathews, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lahiru Kumara, Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini
NOTE: We might not always be able to tip you off about a late injury (or other relevant) updates.
Captain: KL Rahul
It is a bit of a risk to not go with Virat Kohli as captain – the leader of the Indian team can make your fantasy team look silly if you gamble against him – but if you had to go in for some risk for the promise of potentially greater reward, KL Rahul’s your man. In what seems to have become his favourite format of late, Rahul shows great consistency and quick scoring. Batting at the top of the order also gives him the best chance to score big. In the last game, Kohli batted at No.4, which is another reason we’re suggesting Rahul as captain.
Vice-captain: Virat Kohli
We like risk-taking, but not that much risk-taking. If Kohli’s not your captain, he has to be the vice-captain, there’s no room to negotiate with that. The potential downside of not having Kohli as one of the two is too huge. He’s a run machine after all, and on most days, he’ll get you good returns with the bat, irrespective of format.
Sri Lanka’s highest scorer in the first T20I, and a naturally aggressive batsman, Kusal Perera has a game naturally suited to the shortest format. He’s also the wicketkeeper and bats in the top order, completing the trifecta of ‘must-haves’ for a fantasy T20I team: a top-order batsman who also has another skillset.
Jasprit Bumrah made a quiet return to international cricket in the first T20I, but you get the feeling that he wasn’t cranking it up to full gear quite yet. Now that he’s had a match under his belt, he is likely to be more confident of letting loose. And a Bumrah on the loose is a hot pick like no other.
One of the consistent performers in the Indian team who has flown under the radar, Shreyas Iyer has quickly become an integral part of the top order. He’s got all the shots, and he’s got the game to play an innings from 15 for 3 in the fifth over, or 150 for 3 in the 15th over.
A 22-year-old with good potential, the fact that Hasaranga is a leggie works to his advantage. India haven’t been devastating against legbreak bowlers, and Hasaranga might be young, but he is already more than two years old in international cricket. He hasn’t set the scene on fire with his bat, but he has a first-class century to his name, so he’d be an ideal value pick.
He showed off a devastating array of deliveries in the first T20I on the way to a Man-of-the-Match performance, and Navdeep Saini is only set to grow further. He’s got the pace to trouble the best batsmen, but has added guile now, which makes him all the more difficult to face.
Point to note
There hasn’t been a T20 match played at this venue, at the senior level, since May 2018, when Chennai Super Kings held their home games here. In the games that have happened recently, good batting has been rewarded. If the pitch is a batting-friendly one, be sure to stock up on top-order batsmen.