After winning the T20I series 2-1, India get back on track towards gearing up for their World Cup 2023 campaign as the focus shifts to the three-match One Day Internationals series against Sri Lanka starting on Tuesday in Guwahati.

For starters, Hardik Pandya, who was leading the T20I side, will hand the baton back to ODI captain Rohit Sharma.

Along with Rohit, senior stars like Virat Kohli and KL Rahul also return to the side as preparation must begin for the packed calendar and eventually, the mega-event in October. The trio missed the T20I-leg.

The likes of Shubman Gill, Axar Patel and Yuzvendra Chahal who are already familiar with the opposition, having played in the T20Is, will likely carry over into the XI for the ODIs.

In the pre-series press conference on Monday, Rohit highlighted that missing the T20I series was, in fact, a part of workload management for him and that he hasn’t really considered giving up the format just yet.

“Firstly, it is not possible to play back-to-back matches. You need to give them (all format players) enough break. I definitely fall in that as well. We have three T20Is against New Zealand. We will see what happens after IPL. I have not decided to give up the format,” he said.

But, whether there is T20I future for him or not, the focus will be on six crucial home games against Sri Lanka and New Zealand... matches that would presumably go a long way in identifying core issues for the World Cup.

Gill over Kishan

With Shikhar Dhawan out of this ODI series, is it potentially the end of the road for him or a continuation of the confusion in the selections regarding this team is yet to be seen. However, as Rohit confirmed, the ball is now in Shubman Gill’s court to grab the opening spot in ODIs.

On the toss up between Gill and Kishan, Rohit said, “Both have done really well. But it is fair that we give Gill a chance to have a fair run. In recent games, Gill has got a lot of runs. So has Ishan. He got a double hundred. I know what it takes to get a double ton. It is a great achievement. But just to be honest and fair to the guys who have done really well before that.”

He added, “It is unfortunate that we won’t be able to play Ishan, but it is fair to give Gill that run looking at how things have panned out in the last 8-9 months. He has done extremely well in that position. Ishan is very unfortunate, but it doesn’t rule out anything. We are going to try and keep everyone in the mix as we play a lot of games ahead.”

Indeed, while the T20I regulars focussed on that format before last year’s World Cup, Gill made significant contributions in the 50-over format. In 2022, Gill scored 638 runs in 12 ODI innings with a highest of 130, average of 70.88 and a strike rate of 102.57, in a run where he scored 50-plus in five outings. That sort of consistency is hard to ignore.

Middle-order selection

Iyer, with impressive knocks against Bangladesh and New Zealand has made a strong case for himself while Kishan, with his incredible double century against Bangladesh makes himself hard to bench as well. For Suryakumar, who continued his 2023 where he left in 2022 in the shortest format, the expectation to excel in 50-over cricket continues to rise.

However, with Rahul, Iyer and Pandya all slotted in the middle-order, it remains to be seen what position Suryakumar will bat at, if at all.

On the options to choose from for the middle order, Rohit said, “It is a great headache to have rather than having no headache. We will look at who has done well for us in ODI cricket and in what situations they have done well. The problem happens when you start comparing different formats. We will try and capture what has happened in the last 8-9 months. Those guys who have performed in ODIs will get a run, as simple as that.”

He added: “We compare guys who are performing in different formats. Form is important, but the formats are also important. 50-over format is a different format, slightly longer than T20s. The guys who have done well will definitely get an opportunity.”

Although with his red-hot form and match-winning striking ability, Axar Patel leads the race for the lower middle order, but there will be competition between him and Washington Sundar, especially in the absence of Ravindra Jadeja. The series could also prove particularly important for Kuldeep Yadav to have an opportunity to make his way into the squad that will feature in the build-up to the World Cup.

Bowling department

Meanwhile, Bumrah, who was set to join the team in Guwahati ahead of the ODI series, will need some more time to build bowling resilience and will finally miss the ODI series as as a precautionary measure. As a result, the Indian pace-bowling is down to Mohammad Shami, Mohammad Siraj, Umran Malik and Arshdeep Singh.

“Very unfortunate incident with him. Poor guy has been working really hard at NCA for all this time. Just when he got back to his full fitness, he started bowling and everything. Last two days, I think this incident happened where he felt a little bit of stiffness in his back,” said Rohit about Bumrah.

“When Bumrah says anything, we had to be very cautious about it and that is what we did.”

While Arshdeep (3 wickets) and Umran (7 wickets) had their moments of brilliance in the T20Is, more bowling discipline and finesse will be expected out of them when they go up against the same opposition in the 50-over format.

Meanwhile, Dasun Shanaka-led Sri Lanka, will be ruing the lost chances to end India’s unbeaten streak in home bilaterals against them and hope to come back strongly in the ODIs.

Schedule for ODI series

Tuesday 10-Jan-23 1:30 PM First ODI Guwahati
Thursday 12-Jan-23 1:30 PM Second ODI Kolkata
Sunday 15-Jan-23 1:30 PM Third ODI Trivandrum

Full squads for ODIs:

India: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Ishan Kishan (wk), Hardik Pandya (VC), Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Mohd. Shami, Mohd. Siraj, Umran Malik, Arshdeep Singh.

Sri Lanka: Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis(w), Avishka Fernando, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dasun Shanaka(c), Wanindu Hasaranga, Chamika Karunaratne, Maheesh Theekshana, Dilshan Madushanka, Lahiru Kumara, Ashen Bandara, Nuwanidu Fernando, Pramod Madushan, Dunith Wellalage, Kasun Rajitha, Jeffrey Vandersay, Sadeera Samarawickrama

Quotes courtesy: PTI and Indian Express