Colombo: Back in the scheme of things, Rohit Sharma and fit-again KL Rahul will be aiming to get as much batting time as possible in the two-day warm-up game against President's XI starting here on Friday, ahead of the three-Test series against Sri Lanka.
Rohit, who last played a Test match against New Zealand in October last year, did not feature in the Test series against England, Bangladesh and Australia during the home season.
The Mumbai batsman underwent a surgery after injuring his thigh during the ODI series against New Zealand. Although he has not played a first-class game since his recovery, he featured in the Indian Premier League and made a comeback into the national side for the ICC Champions Trophy, where he amassed more than 300 runs.
But the national selectors specifically rested Rohit for the West Indies tour in order to keep him fresh for the upcoming long season.
Rahul, who had a run of six fifties in seven innings in the Australia series, is also back in the squad after recuperating from the shoulder surgery that ruled him out of the Indian Premier League, the Champions Trophy and the West Indies series.
And both the batsmen will looking at the practice game to spend as much time as possible at the crease to stake their claim for a place in the playing XI in the first Test against Sri Lanka, starting July 26 at Galle.
The practice game at the BRC Grounds here will also be Ravi Shastri's first assignment with the Indian team following his much-publicised appointment as head coach for a two-year tenure earlier this month.
Since it is a two-day game, a team can test all the players of its squad and India are expected to check all the weapons in their armoury.
All the Indian batsmen and bowlers will get a look in and skipper Virat Kohli is expected to decide his best possible combination for the playing XI for the first Test depending on their performances in the coming two days.
The match will also provide Kohli a chance to check his bowling unit, which features the pace duo of Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami who are making a comeback.
All-rounder Hardik Pandya, who was left out for the final two Tests against Australia due to a shoulder injury, is also back in the squad while pacer Umesh Yadav looks a certainty after a splendid domestic season.
Keeping in mind the slowish and turning nature of Sri Lankan pitches, India have fielded a three-man strong spin attack with chinaman Kuldeep Yadav finding a slot alongside Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravinda Jadeja.
The trio too would be eyeing to outsmart each other in the practice game in order to catch the attention of skipper Kohli.
Virat Kohli (Captain), Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (VC), Rohit Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha (wicketkeeper), Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Abhinav Mukund....