By Andrew Fidel Fernando
Lasith Malinga has a problem. He has captained Sri Lanka to a World T20 title, but that was way back in 2014. Now, almost six years later, there are serious doubts over his leadership. Since he took over as captain again, in 2019, Sri Lanka have lost nine matches under him, and won only once. There’s no doubt he’s the best player in the side – that one victory came in the match in which he took four wickets in four balls for the second time in his limited-overs career. But can he get the best out of the ten remaining players in the side? Sri Lanka are a relatively young team. Malinga has as much T20 nous as anybody. But is he a competent manager of inexperienced players?
Malinga has another problem. Lately, India haven’t lost many series to Sri Lanka. In fact, India have not lost a bilateral series to Sri Lanka – in any format – in more than ten years. In T20Is, Sri Lanka at least have the bragging rights of having defeated India in a World T20 final in 2014. But where Sri Lanka were serious rivals in the 90s and the aughts, India have more recently begun considering Sri Lanka matches a low-profile fixture. Often, they rest their regular captain. This time, they have rested their batsman of 2019, Rohit Sharma.
Can the visitors turn the tables in 2020? Their young batsmen were glorious in Pakistan in September, and awful in the Australia series that followed. Young legspinner Wanindu Hasaranga was similarly a revelation in Lahore, but not so great in Adelaide and Brisbane.
India, however, are not as difficult to beat in this format as they are in others. They have not been quite as dominant in this format as they would like to be either, They lost T20I series in New Zealand and Australia in 2019, and also lost matches at home to West Indies, Bangladesh and South Africa (though India didn’t lose any of those series).