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India v Sri Lanka first T20I preview: Sri Lanka could spring a surprise

India sit top of the world Twenty20 International rankings and begin the New Year with a three-match series against Sri Lanka.

The Lankans enjoyed a fruitful 2022, winning the Asia Cup, and they will be looking to win a T20I series on Indian soil for the first time.

And playing into the hands of the visitors is the fact that India go into the three-game tussle with a new-look line-up led by explosive all-rounder Hardik Pandya.

The first of the three T20s between the sides begins on Tuesday at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.

What: India v Sri Lanka
Where: Wankhede Stadium
When: 13.30, Tuesday 3rd January 2023
Odds: India 1/3, Sri Lanka 12/5

New dawn for India's T20 side

It was far from a disastrous 2022 for India's Twenty20 side, who managed to win eight of their nine bilateral series in the format last year.

However, when it came to the big occasions, they faltered, failing to make an impression in the Asia Cup and being knocked out of the T20 World Cup by eventual champions England at the semi-final stage.

India, nonetheless, finished the year top of the T20 world rankings, but begin a new home season with a different look to their squad.

With no T20 World Cup on the horizon and attention set to turn to the 50-over World Cup later in the year, it is time for experimentation in the India camp.

With that in mind, veterans Virat Kohli and KL Rahul are both being rested for the series with Sri Lanka, while Rohit Sharma is still recovering from a finger injury.

In Sharma's absence, Pandya is set to lead the team and that could well lay the foundations for the future of India's team in the shortest format.

A younger looking side is set to turn out against Sri Lanka with Ishan Kishan looking to reignite his international career after a poor season in the Indian Premier League last year, while the likes of Shubman Gil and Ruturaj Gaikwad are expected to be in contention to open with him.

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Yadav looks a reliable batting option

With a fair bit of uncertainty surrounding India's batting line-up and some of their more experienced figures absent, punters are advised to look at Suryakumar Yadav as a decent option to top-score for his side at 12/5.

Yadav is not the most explosive batter in the India camp, but his recent T20 form has been excellent with 297 runs scored in six matches, including an unbeaten knock of 111 against New Zealand back in November.

Pandya is of course a decent alternative option at 11/2 given his experience but his focus will be on captain duties in this one and Yadav can impress.

Sri Lanka look to build on Asia Cup triumph

Although their T20 World Cup campaign came to an end in the Super 12 phase, Sri Lanka can draw confidence from their performance in the Asia Cup last year heading into this series.

The Lankans were rewarded for their attacking-minded style of play in the tournament last autumn, beating Pakistan in the final after also beating them and India in the Super Four phase.

Sri Lanka racked up scores of 170+ in four of their six Asia Cup matches and they will surely sense weakness in this new-look India side.

As mentioned, it is an era of experimentation for India and they could be especially vulnerable in the series opener with some experienced players missing, so Sri Lanka are worth chancing to win the first T20 at 12/5.

Hasaranga could be pick of the bowlers

As the only left-arm paceman at their disposal, Arshdeep Singh is sure to play a key role for India in this series and could line up alongside the likes of Umran Malik and Mukesh Kumar in the India attack.

However, one bowler punters should keep an eye on is Wanindu Hasaranga, who has taken at least two wickets in five of his last seven T20s for Sri Lanka and is his country's not-so-secret weapon.

At 11/2, the leg-spinner could represent value to be the match's top bowler.

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