Brief Scores: India 199/2 (Kishan 89, Shreyas Iyer 57*, Shanaka 1-19) beat Sri Lanka 137/6 (Asalanka 53*, Chameera 24, Kumar 2-9, Venkatesh Iyer 2-36) by 62 runs
After whitewashing the two-time world champions, West Indies, the new top-ranked T20I side India are up against a mediocre Sri Lanka side who had narrowly avoided a clean sweep at the hands of Australia recently. Undoubtedly, the home side are clear favourites going into the three-match T20I series.
The 22-yards at Lucknow
The black soil pitch used for this game was a solid one for batting with the average score being 166 on this ground. With hardly any dew being predicted for this evening, the choice of the captain was eagerly awaited.
SL opted to bowl; Deepak Hooda made his T20I debut
Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka won the toss and elected to chase. The tourists faced heavy blows with their star bowler Wanindu Hasaranga opting out due to COVID infection and few more players due to injury. India who have offered few of their players rest, received Jasprit Bumrah and Ravindra Jadeja back to the side, while Deepak Hooda earned his debut cap.
India openers provided a powerful platform; hosts 58-0 after powerplay
Both India openers - Ishan Kishan and Rohit Sharma - started cautiously giving respect to the bowlers but the former picked up the pace with three cracking back-to-back boundaries in the third over against Chamika Karunaratne.
Kishan kept the momentum going with another 14-run over against Lahiru Kumara consisting of a wonderful six and four. Sri Lanka introduced spinner Praveen Jayawickrama but remained unsuccessful in picking up a wicket. Runs kept on flowing as the fifty-run opening partnership came up in the first six overs.
Sri Lanka sent back Rohit but India accelerated shouldering on Ishan Kishan’s 89; India 130-1 after 15 overs
The visitors’ fielding wasn’t up to the mark; after few sloppy efforts, they dropped Ishan Kishan who was batting in a destructive way. Rohit Sharma was struggling with his timing but was getting his rhythm back with one four and six over mid wicket. Meanwhile, Ishan Kishan reached his second T20I fifty as India piled up 98 runs for no damage at the halfway mark.
After conceding a hundred-run opening partnership, Sri Lanka finally broke the pair after few silent overs as Kumara dismissed Rohit with a ball that kept low and hit the stumps. With that wicket, Sri Lanka did make a slight return by drying the run flow but it still seemed to be a difficult path ahead for them as India had 9 wickets in the bank.
Explosive batting powered India to 199-2 after 20 overs
Ishan Kishan continued with his great timing as with every run, he was getting close to his personal hundred but had to stop on 89 as SL captain Shanaka got rid of the big fish.
Ravindra Jadeja, after returning from injury, looked good with his timing too. Suddenly, Shreyas Iyer got into a wild mood as he was hitting fours and sixes with ease in the last few overs; soon he reached his fifty in just 25 balls. The hosts finished on 199-2 at the end of 20 overs. With the current poor batting record of Sri Lanka, chasing 200 against the top-class Indian bowling was going to be tough.
India broke Sri Lanka’s back with early wickets; SL 29-2 after powerplay
India kicked off their bowling in a dream way as Bhuvneshwar Kumar provided them a wicket off the very first ball as Pathum Nissanka saw the ball roll on to the stumps after taking the inside edge of his bat. Just when two young batters tried to stich up a partnership, Bhuvneshwar dismissed Kamil Mishara for just 13.
There had been few dropped catches in the powerplay which wasn’t going to satisfy Rohit Sharma, the captain. But even with the drawbacks, disciplined bowling from India restricted the opposition to just 29-2 after the powerplay taking the game out of the visitors’ reach.
India hurt Sri Lanka with wickets at regular intervals; SL 90-5 after 15 overs
No sooner had the powerplay ended, Sri Lanka lost another wicket as Janith Liyanage’s mistimed pull was caught easily by the point fielder Sanju Samson. The only hope left for the tourists was Dinesh Chandimal who looked good for a tiny period in the middle before being stumped off Jadeja. SL limped up to 57-4 at the halfway mark.
Perhaps, the visitors themselves had lost the desire of fighting in this game. Their captain Shanaka decided to reverse sweep and found the backward point fielder Bhuvneshwar Kumar, while Yuzvendra Chahal, in this process, became India’s leading wicket-taker in T20Is amongst current bowlers closely followed by Jasprit Bumrah.
Since then, Charith Asalanka and Chamika Karunaratne started to collect runs at a decent rate but still with just 90 runs after 15 overs for the loss of half their side, it was going to be an almost impossible job to crack the target.
Asalanka’s fifty only positive for Sri Lanka as India went 1-0 up in the series
Again, Sri Lanka lost a wicket at the wrong time as Chamika Karunaratne cut hard only to be pouched by wicketkeeper Ishan Kishan for a well-made 21.
India captain Rohit Sharma subsequently decided to bowl with Deepak Hooda for few overs. Dushmantha Chameera, in the 18th over, went hard at the bowler to gather few boundaries only for consolation. The only positive for the Lankans was Asalanka raising his bat for his third T20I fifty. Harshal Patel finished the innings with the last over as Sri Lanka could reach only 137-6, losing the game by 62 runs.
Ishan Kishan was adjudged player of the match for his 56-ball 89 that propelled India to a decent total.
What to look forward to
Both teams will now move to Dharamsala for the last two T20Is. India will look to pocket the series in the second game even as Sri Lanka will hope for a better performance in all the departments.
The second T20I will be played on February 26 followed by the last game the following day.