As India and Sri Lanka get set to face each other in a five-match one-day series, we take a look at five players from India for whom the series will be extremely important considering the upcoming World Cup.
Virat Kohli: He just returned to form against West Indies following a torrid tour of England. As such, he should be expected to do well against Sri Lanka, one of his favourite teams. However, apart from leading the batting, Kohli will also be captaining the side for the first three ODIs, with regular skipper MS Dhoni being rested. It is imperative that Kohli does well with the bat. He has an opportunity to prove that batting while leading the side gives him additional responsibility. In case he fails, the media will be quick to pounce on him since he was only recently spotted in public with his alleged girlfriend.
Shikhar Dhawan: This series is extremely important for Dhawan. Ever since the high-scoring home series against Australia last year, he has failed to make much of an impression in the series' that followed. Dhawan struggled in South Africa, got in a couple of good knocks in New Zealand, but was troubled again in England, so much so that he had to be dropped after the first three Tests. Even in the three ODIs against West Indies in the curtailed series, he failed to make much of an impression. The only fifty he got was also not a fluent one. The left-hander will need to put his hand up against the Lankans.
Dhawal Kulkarni: The Mumbai pacer has been in contention for a place in the Indian team constantly over the last half a decade. On his debut Ranji season in 2008, he was the leading wicket-taker. The striking performance earned him a place in the team for the 2009 Test tour of New Zealand. But, India didn't need his services, and Kulkarni was dumped soon after. So far, he has been unlucky to have played only one ODI. The fact that he has been chosen instead of Mohammed Shami proves that he is rated highly. Hopefully, Kulkarni gets a fair chance to prove himself, and makes the same count.
Amit Mishra: The leggie's stop start career continues. Mishra has had a mixed run in international cricket over the last 12 months. He was brilliant in phases, and equally mediocre at other times. Mishra has the talent to succeed in international cricket, but needs to work on his consistency. He has competition now in the form of left-arm spinner Akshar Patel. Mishra undoubtedly has the experience, and came up with a spectacular spell in the 2nd ODI against the West Indians at Delhi. Patel, however, did even better in the next game he featured in, replacing Mishra.
Ishant Sharma: Under normal circumstances, the lanky pacer would have been the leader of the attack. But, he is actually not even a certainty in the playing eleven as of now, at least not in the one-dayers. With Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron having done better than him in the format, they will be preferred. However, considering his experience, it is highly possible that Sharma's experience will be called upon. And, it would be interesting to see how he responds. Sharma resurrected his Test career with a magnificent spell at Lord's. Can he do the same in one-dayers.
--By A Cricket Analyst