The fresh faces in the Indian cricket team have a lot to play for as they take on Sri Lanka in a three-match ODI series. With white-ball specialists and uncapped players vying for spots in the first-choice team ahead of the T20 World Cup, competition will be fierce within the squad.
The first ODI between India and Sri Lanka, to be played today at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, will give players from both sides the opportunity to set the tone of the tour. A good performance would go a long way in not only helping the team achieve a win but also in sealing a spot in the playing XI for the upcoming games of the tour.
Here are three players who could win the Man of the Match award in the first ODI between India and Sri Lanka.
#3 Suryakumar Yadav (India)
Suryakumar Yadav has never played an ODI before, but he comes into this series as one of India’s lynchpins in the middle order. Having made a splash in the T20I format, the classy right-hander will attempt to put his limited-overs credentials beyond doubt.
An excellent player of spin, Suryakumar will be tasked with countering Sri Lanka’s premier bowlers on a track that’s known for being low and slow. He could easily walk away with the Man of the Match award, just like he did in his second international game.
#2 Prithvi Shaw (India)
Prithvi Shaw is no stranger to winning Man of the Match awards early on in his career. The young opener claimed the accolade on Test debut against the West Indies in 2018, courtesy of a brilliant counter-attacking hundred in his only innings of the match.
Now slated to play his fourth ODI, Shaw could make an impression in a format that’s much more suited to his style of play. The pitch in Colombo is expected to slow down as the match progresses, and India will need to make the most of the powerplay. Thankfully, they have just the man for the job.
#1 Hardik Pandya (India)
Although he hasn’t been named in a leadership role like many expected, Hardik Pandya will arguably be India’s most important player on this tour of Sri Lanka. With the Men in Blue likely to field two specialist pacers, the all-rounder could serve as the third fast-bowling option.
Pandya is reportedly bowling with great rhythm in the nets. He has fond memories of playing against Sri Lanka as well, having scored his maiden Test century against the opposition. We could see him walk away with the Man of the Match award in the series opener.