Dec 20, 2017
By MI Media
Of all the three formats India have played in 2017, they have been the most vulnerable in the shortest, in the T20Is. Sri Lanka may have seen an opening against a young and rather inexperienced Indian side. However, India didn’t let them unsettle their recent form. India managed to bat very well and notched up a strong total and backed it up with some very good bowling, in spite of the immense dew on the field. Sri Lanka’s display with the bat was very average and that allowed India to go 1-0 up with their biggest T20I victory, by 93 runs.
Thisara Perera got back to winning ways with the toss, as Sri Lanka decided to put India in to bat, with the dew factor at the back of their mind. There was a good amount of dew on the turf even before the first ball of the game. Sri Lanka handed a debut to Vishwa Fernando, while Jaydev Unadkat made a comeback for India, replacing Bhuvneshwar Kumar. KL Rahul reoccupied the opener’s slot with Dhawan not being a part of the squad.
The Indian openers looked solid from the word go. Rohit Sharma hit a couple of boundaries right off the middle of his bat, while Rahul settled in very well too. Sri Lanka got their first breather when Angelo Mathews succeeded in picking up the first wicket that of Indian skipper, Rohit Sharma. He tried to pull a length delivery, and the ball was mistimed to mid-on, where Chameera took the ball brilliantly, inches off the ground.
The in-form Shreyas Iyer joined KL Rahul and the duo ensured that the run-rate didn’t drop. Rahul was particularly severe in the final over of the Powerplay, as India notched up 50 runs on the board. Shreyas Iyer played some wonderful shots, once again and the partnership passed 50. Right after India crossed 100, they lost Iyer who looked to manufacture some room and slash Pradeep over the off side. He only managed to edge the ball through to the keeper.
MS Dhoni came out to join Rahul and looked confident in the first few balls he faced. He used his feet to smash his first boundary, a powerful strike down the ground. KL Rahul couldn’t convert his fifty into a big one, as he was bowled off a smart slower delivery by the Lankan skipper, Thisara Perera.
Dhoni & Manish Pandey had to settle in, as the Lankan bowlers dried up easy runs between overs 14 to 17. The pair picked up singles and ran well between the wickets. It was only until two overs were left in the innings that Dhoni & Pandey decided to open their shoulders and go for the big shots. The 19th over, by Pradeep yielded 21 runs as Manish Pandey took full toll of a no-ball and the Free Hit that followed.
Perera bowled the final over, and dished out a few Yorkers that the pair found hard to put away. Dhoni didn’t lose hope as he tonked the final ball of the innings massively into the stands to take the score to 180. India scored over 30 runs in the final two overs.
With dew increasingly becoming a problem on the field, the Lankans would have felt that 181 is gettable on this ground. The Indian bowlers would have to exercise brilliant control with the ball, and they had two wrist spinners in their playing XI.
Hardik Pandya was given the new ball, and didn’t have a great start, as he conceded 11 runs off his first over. Jaydev Unadkat who was making his return to the national side, picked up a wicket off his first over, as he got Dickwella to mistime his slower ball. Hardik then bowled another 11-run over, but the scoring was pulled back after another tight over by Unadkat.
Upul Tharanga punished the Indian bowlers thereafter, as he picked up boundaries with regularity. However, in the penultimate over of the Powerplay, he fell prey to an average delivery from Chahal. Tharanga looked to help a leg-side delivery towards fine leg but only managed to get a faint part of his bat on the ball. Dhoni moved well down the leg side and took a fine catch to send the dangerous south-paw.
Jasprit Bumrah was soon introduced into the attack in the final Powerplay over. His tricks were out there for everyone to see, as Mathews & Kusal Perera struggled to face him. Bumrah conceded just 1 run off his first over, keeping Sri Lanka to 40/2 at the end of the Powerplay.
Chahal and Kuldeep proved to be India’s go-to men once again. They were pivotal in drying the runs up when the Lankans were going well in the final ODI, and in this game, they made their magic work once again. Chahal and MS Dhoni worked their magic with ball and gloves, respectively.
After dismissing Tharanga, Chahal accounted for Angelo Mathews who handed a simple caught-and-bowled chance to him, and then had Thisara Perera stumped as well. In the midst Kuldeep Yadav also chipped in with the wicket of Shanaka. Chahal finished with figures of 4-0-23-4, and all of this with a ball that was wet and had to be dealt with regularly with a towel.
Hardik Pandya joined the party as he accounted for the final three Sri Lankan wickets. He started it all with a sharp catch and followed it up with smart bowling to claim two more. India completed their largest T20I win in terms of runs, 93 of them. Nobody would have thought that they would win by such a margin, especially with the dew playing a major role at the venue.
India have gone 1-0 up and will be beaming with confidence after this resounding win. Sri Lanka have already had a miserable series, and will not want to make it worse. They will look to come back strongly in the second T20I, much the way the Indians did in the second ODI. The teams head to Indore for the second T20I, which will be played on Friday, 22nd December.