Dubai : India will lock horns against Sri Lanka in a three-match Twenty20 International series starting in Pune on Wednesday with the number-one ranking on the T20I Championship table up for grabs.
India, which vaulted seven places to first after sweeping aside Australia last week, needs to win the series against Sri Lanka to retain the coveted position. In contrast, Sri Lanka will also aim to win the series, which will help it leapfrog India and the West Indies into the top spot.
With the 2016 World Twenty20 starting in less than four weeks, this series is extremely crucial for both sides. India and Sri Lanka will not only aim to find the winning combination and momentum, but also target entering the tournament as the number-one ranked side, which will serve as an additional confidence-booster.
Following this series, India and Sri Lanka will feature in the Asia Cup Twenty20 tournament in Bangladesh before launching their ICC World Twenty20 campaigns on 15 and 17 March respectively. Sri Lanka will defend the title it won in Bangladesh in 2014 in the tournament to be staged from 8 March to 3 April, while India will try to repeat its ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 glory when it lifted the most prestigious trophy in the sport in front of its fans in Mumbai.
Meanwhile, India has rested number-one ranked T20I batsman Virat Kohli, which means his team-mate Suresh Raina will start as the highest-ranked batsman in 13th position. Other batsmen featuring inside the top 20 include Tillakaratne Dilshan (14th), Rohit Sharma (17th) and Yuvraj Singh (20th).
India captain MS Dhoni is 38th, 108 points behind Yuvraj, while Shikhar Dhawan is 87th and Ajinkya Rahane 89th.
Among bowlers, India’s Ravichandran Ashwin will start in second place, 81 points behind number-one ranked Sunil Narine of the West Indies, while Lasith Malinga is sixth, Nuwan Kulasekara is 10th and Ravindra Jadeja is 18th. (ANI)