Continuing T20 matches will help in World T20 preparations: Dhoni

Pune, Feb 8 (IANS) Ahead of the opening game of the three-match Twenty20 International (T20I) series against Sri Lanka, India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Monday said the non-stop T20 matches in the coming days will help the team prepare well for the forthcoming World T20 scheduled to be played at home in March-April.

The confidence of the home team is sky high following a 3-0 hammering of Australia Down Under and the T20I series against the island nation will be ideal for preparations for the upcoming Asia Cup in Bangladesh and most importantly the World T20 in India.

“It’s only the T20 format (that India will be playing for a while). After this series there is the Asia Cup, some warm-up games and the World T20. It has given us time to get into the groove as in different formats the requirements are different,” Dhoni said at the pre-match press conference here.

“I feel it will give us time to adjust. The last three games in Australia (that India won with a 3-0 sweep) will also help us. And the conditions here will be exactly what we will get in the ICC World T20,” the limited overs skipper said.

India, who vaulted seven places to first after sweeping aside Australia last week, need to win the series against Lanka to retain the coveted position in the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) T20I rankings. If Sri Lanka win the series 2-1, they will gain the top spot and India will slip to the third position.

India’s star batsman Virat Kohli has been rested for the series. When asked if experienced batsman Suresh Raina will get to bat at No.3 in Kohli’s absence, Dhoni said, “It did cross our minds to use Raina at no. 3 but it will be slightly better if he (Raina) bats at the position in which he will most likely bat in the World T20.”

“We need to give him that exposure as we are a team, which doesn’t play many T20s. It’s usually one-game a series. This (three-game) series gives us the opportunity to expose him to No.4 slot for a considerable period of time. It will be more appropriate to keep him at No.4 so that he gets adjusted rather than use him at one drop and ask someone else to bat at 4,” he remarked.

On the other hand, Lanka skipper Dinesh Chandimal said star batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan, who is nursing a finger injury, will miss the first match.

“Dilshan has a finger fracture. He will not be available for tomorrow (Tuesday) but is coming for the second and third games,” Chandimal said.

Left-arm fast bowler Binura Fernando has been ruled out of the T20 series after sustaining a hamstring injury.

“Left-arm fast bowler Binura Fernando injured his hamstring when bowling in the nets yesterday (Sunday). He has been ruled out of the entire series. He will be replaced by Shaminda Eranga,” the captain said.

Sri Lanka’s T20I captain Malinga was earlier ruled out due to injury, along with all-rounder Angelo Mathews, seamer Nuwan Kulasekara, and left-arm spinner Rangana Herath.

Speaking about the series, he said, “I am looking forward towards doing well. It’s all about the mindset. Performance will certainly follow if I have a positive mindset.”

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