The Sri Lanka tour didn’t exactly go as planned for Team India, but there were many positives to bring back home after winning the ODI series and losing the T20Is with a further depleted squad. The likes of Suryakumar Yadav, Prithvi Shaw, Deepak Chahar and Ishan Kishan put on eye-catching displays in the 50-over format; the former duo was also called up to England as a result.

Having won the ODI series, the team management decided to give fringe players a chance in the third match. It could’ve been an opportunity for them to earn plaudits like the others, but there wasn’t anything particular to write home about in that game.

 

Then, the first T20 was a show of force by the Shikhar-Dhawan led side, featuring promising performances with both bat and ball. Ahead of the second T20I, the dressing room was struck with a COVID-19 outbreak; Rahul Dravid & Co had only 11 fit players to choose from.

It was an unlikely chance for the likes of Nitish Rana and Devdutt Padikkal to impress in two consecutive games. But they couldn’t capitalise, and India lost both the T20Is. Here is our selection of players who could have done better with the chances that they were given on this tour.

Sanju Samson

An injury forced the 26-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman out of the first two ODIs, where he was replaced by a swashbuckling Ishan Kishan. Samson showed promise in the third ODI with a run-a-ball 46 and was expected to build on this in the T20Is.

 

But he could manage a paltry total of 34 across three innings, including a duck in the decider. With Rishabh Pant, Kishan and KL Rahul already vying for the wicketkeeper-batsman spot in the senior squad, the next opportunity for Samson to stake a claim for this role might not come anytime soon.

Manish Pandey

The Karnataka batsman could be one of India’s biggest what-if stories. He was a crucial part of Virat Kohli’s Under-19 World Cup winning team in 2008, and also became the first Indian to score an IPL century, at the age of 19.

It took multiple high-scoring Ranji seasons and six more years from that point for him to earn a call-up to the national side. Since then, he has been in and out of the team, and his showings in Lanka somewhat proved why.

 

As a 31-year-old experienced pro in the squad comprising several debutants, Pandey would’ve been expected by Dravid to play the sheet anchor role in the middle. But he could manage only 77 runs in his three ODI innings, which is especially disappointing because he often came in with several overs left.

Nitish Rana

The Kolkata Knight Riders left-hander was given a chance in the third ODI. He walked in to bat half way into the Indian innings. It could’ve been the perfect platform to make a debut, by taking his time to get an eye in. But his vigil lasted only 14 deliveries as he perished for seven.

 

He was then given his T20I debut in the second match, but again fell cheaply for just nine runs. The final T20I couldn’t get him to cross single digits either; he was dismissed for six runs. With tough competition from the middle-order likes of Shreyas Iyer and Suryakumar Yadav, the 27-year-old Rana has been pushed further down the pecking order after this tour.

Krishnappa Gowtham

The offspinning allrounder, who was largely seen as a T20 specialist after his performances with India A and in the TNPL, Gowtham made his ODI debut in the dead rubber. But he was trapped leg-before on a full-toss for just two runs.

 

He was expensive with the ball, but managed to get his first international wicket at least. He could’ve excelled in the T20Is had it not been for the COVID outbreak, and that’s why his name is perhaps a harsh inclusion on this list as well.

But at the age of 32, his chances will be far and few between; and he has to take each one by the scruff of the neck.

Devdutt Padikkal

The Royal Challengers Bangalore batsman was drafted into the T20I side after impressing for the Virat Kohli-led franchise in the recent IPL seasons. He looked good for 29 on his debut (becoming the first 2000-born international player for India), but couldn’t build on the start.

 

The second T20I was a missed opportunity as he fell for just nine.

It’s still early days in his career though. And Padikkal would be looking to make amends quickly, especially with the remainder of IPL 2021 coming up soon.

Image: BCCI