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Senior Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan made a case for himself with a timely half-century against Sri Lanka. Image Credit: Gulf News archive

As expected, India strolled to an unchallenged 2-0 annihilation of Sri Lanka to kick off the new year on a high, but more than the victories, it was the manner in which they were achieved that must have pleased the team management.

I was particularly impressed with the performance of the bowling unit.

Showing no signs of rust, Jasprit Bumrah reiterated why he is the most important cog in the bowling wheel, but the star of the show was Navdeep Saini, the deserved Man of the Series.

Pace has always been his calling card, but his progression as a white-ball bowler was evident in both Indore and Pune.

His yorkers were spot-on, he has developed multiple slower deliveries and he is unafraid to bang the ball in and hustle batsmen with his speed and direction, which are all excellent signs for Indian cricket.

So is the emergence of Shardul Thakur as a bankable white-ball exponent. In so many ways, he is a carbon copy of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Deepak Chahar in that he can both swing the ball and make handy contributions with the bat down the order. One of the questions over the last few months has been who the back-up quicks will be in case India are without their first-choice pacemen going into the T20 World Cup later in the year. I think that question has been answered emphatically by both Saini and Thakur.

It was great to see Virat give the batsmen on the bench a go in the last T20I. It can be frustrating to keep watching from the sidelines, so the move to give Sanju Samson and Manish Pandey game time was both prudent and admirable. Not only that, Virat pushed himself down to No. 6 to allow these two batsmen a chance to find their feet.

I know from experience that it is not easy to suddenly turn up in a match after being on the outer for a long time, but Manish grabbed his opportunity with both hands, showing excellent understanding of the game situation after a mid-innings collapse. Manish is an unorthodox batsman, but he knows what his strengths are and sticks to them. He is a tireless worker and an outstanding fielder, qualities that make him a white-ball asset.

Shikhar Dhawan provided the selectors with a happy headache with a long-awaited half-century. He was scratchy in Indore but in Pune, he was flowing fluently and has done his case no harm whatsoever.

Ahead of the tougher challenges at home against Australia and later on in New Zealand, India can take heart from the gains against Sri Lanka, inexperienced alright but also vastly talented.