After registering their ninth straight series victory in Test cricket, India are all set to take on familiar rivals Sri Lanka in the limited-overs series comprising of three ODIs and three T20Is starting on December 10 on Sunday. Sri Lanka managed to secure a fighting draw against India in the third and final Test at Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi courtesy a brilliant batting performance by young batters - Dhananjaya de Silva and Roshen Silva. However, an emphatic innings victory in Nagpur ensured that world number one Test side claim the three-match rubber 1-0.
Before the start of the three-match ODI series, we catch up with Team India's young spinners - Yuzvendra Chahal and Axar Patel for a quick chat asking them about the upcoming series, playing under new captain Rohit Sharma and their preparation for the important South Africa tour.
Both Yuzvendra Chahal and Axar Patel have grabbed the opportunity of representing India in the coloured jersey with both hands. Along with chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav, the young spin trio have formed a lethal spin partnership for the men in blue, leaving behind the presence of spin aces Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in the limited-overs cricket.
Chahal, in particular, has been successful in taking crucial wickets during tense situations and has emerged as the attacking spinner for skipper Virat Kohli. Whereas, Axar is more of a bowler who likes to restrict the opposition batsmen and creates pressure by bowling tidy line and length.
In the upcoming ODI series against Sri Lanka, Chahal and Axar are once again try to give their best for the Indian team and eye a 3-0 sweep of the Lankan lions. On being asked about the formula behind the success of the present Indian team, Axar responded: "There is more unity in the team as we are all are of almost same age group, every player is aware of their roles in the current team and gels well with each other. The batsmen score enough runs everytime they go out and give ample chance to the bowlers to have a go at the rival batsmen."
Chahal who has played a lot of cricket under Kohli for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League and now in the current Indian team spoke about the new leader Rohit Sharma who will don the skipper's hat versus the Islanders in the limited -overs series. Chahal said: "I made my IPL debut in 2013 and played my first match in Mumbai Indians under Rohit. Just like Virat bhai, Rohit is also an aggressive captain and likes to lead from the front."
"We cannot compare the two captains as both have their own style of leading the side but we are aware that they both are hungry for wins."
The Haryana leggie added: " Rohit has done a good job for the Mumbai Indian in the IPL and has led them to victory in the last edition of the IPL as well."
Kohli has been rested for the limited-overs series against Sri Lanka and will be back in action when India take South Africa in away-from-home series from January 5. In absence of Kohli, the young Indian team will once again bank upon the experience of former skipper MS Dhoni who will provide his inputs from behind the stumps.
On Dhoni's mentorship role in Team India, Axar said: "MS Dhoni is a big name in Indian cricket and he had served the country at the highest level for over a decade. His ability to read the game unmatched in world cricket and his experience will come in handy for the team in the series vs SL."
Patel added: "Apart from bowlers, the wicket-keeper has the advantage of knowing the nature of the pitch and are good in their assessment of the track. So Dhoni Bhai gives his piece of advice to the bowlers of how the pitch is behaving and his valuable inputs are really crucial for the team."
After completing the home series against Lanka, India are scheduled to leave for an important tour of South Africa where they will play three Tests, six ODIs, and three T20Is. On being quizzed about the SA tour, Chahal quipped: "We have to be mentally strong to prepare to face a team like South Africa in their own backyard. But, I'm presently looking at the upcoming ODI series and T20I series vs SL, we still have time for SA tour to think about."
Whereas, Axar Patel who has played on the South African pitches for India A said: "I have played in South Africa for India A, the games were mainly hosted in the small venues which assisted the slower ball bowlers. However, our seniors have told us that the pitches in SA offer a lot more bounce and not very helpful for the spinners, so we have to adapt accordingly as per the situation."