With less than two months to go for the T20 World Cup, it should be no surprise that even a 50-over series now comes loaded with T20 undertones. The biggest of them all, for India, is the return of KL Rahul. Thursday’s match will be Rahul’s first in competitive cricket since the IPL eliminator in May, following surgery and rehabilitation for his groin injury, as well as being laid low by Covid-19. Ample game time across the three fixtures at a venue where he scored his maiden ODI century in 2016 should be on the agenda for the India captain.
Another player who could do with game time is Deepak Chahar, who is coming back from an even longer injury layoff and is in a race against time to convince the Indian think-tank to keep him in their plans for the T20 World Cup. Opportunities to prove his match-sharpness in 10-over spells over the next five days could pave the way for that. He’s already made it as part of the reserves for the Asia Cup, where India have picked just three quicks in the main squad (Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh and Avesh Khan).