Sri Lanka tour of India T20Is, 2022-23, Top Takeaways: Rahul Tripathi's presence at the top, Hardik Pandya's bowling and Axar Patel's all-round ability are top takeaways for India from Sri Lanka T20Is.
India won the T20I series 2-1 against Sri Lanka. Although the third match was a one-sided affair, the first two matches went down to the wire. India were without the services of star players such as Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah and Rishabh Pant for various reasons. But young players stood up to the challenge and delivered for the team in the T20I series.
Here’s a look at the top takeaways for India from the recently concluded T20I series.
Rahul Tripathi’s impact innings
Playing at number 3, Rahul Tripathi showed a new approach that can be taken at one down. For more than a decade, Virat Kohli has occupied the number 3 spot in limited overs cricket and has played more of a role of an accumulator, looking to bat through the innings. But Tripathi showed that a number 3 batter could be an aggressor as well, playing momentum-changing innings like the 16-ball 35 in the third T20I at Rajkot. His success at number 3, although in just one game, could make India adopt a new aggressive style of cricket in the shortest format that has been missing for quite some time.
Hardik Pandya, the captain
Hardik Pandya’s methods as a T20I skipper may be up for debate, but it cannot be denied that captain Pandya backed his young players and gave them the confidence to bounce back from failures and turn things around. He backed Arshdeep Singh to bowl with the new ball in the third T20I after the medium pacer bowled 5 no balls in the previous match. And Arshdeep bounced back with a three-wicket haul in the decider. Also, Pandya showed he is ready to think out of the box and put his players into difficult situations to test them although his moves may not get rewards all the time. His captaincy is still a work in progress that would gradually improve with time.
Hardik Pandya, the bowler
In all three matches, Hardik Pandya bowled with the new ball and even swing the ball in. With Pandya as a new-ball bowler, India could play an extra bowler or batter for better balance in the XI. He might have just taken 2 wickets, but he undertook the responsibility of bowling in the most difficult phase of the T20I innings. Also, if Pandya bowls regularly as a new-ball bowler or second or third change, it gives India a lot of flexibility to play around.
Deepak Hooda, a specialist batter at number 6 or an all-rounder?
Deepak Hooda played a match-winning innings of 23-ball 41* in the first T20I at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. He and Axar combined to put a 68-run unbeaten stand in just 35 balls. Hooda, who is also a part-time off-break bowler, has not been utilised as a bowler for quite some time, not just in this series. It begs the question of whether the team management is just relying on Hooda as a specialist batter at number 6. If yes, Hooda could be challenged with a promotion up the order and ask him to deliver more with the bat consistently. If not, Hooda should be asked to bowl a few overs for better balance in the XI and more variety in the bowling attack.
The coming of age of Axar Patel
Axar Patel could blame being born in Ravindra Jadeja’s era for limited opportunities at the international level. But since Jadeja’s absence due to injuries, Axar has bagged that spin all-rounder’s spot in the XI and is finally making it count with both bat and ball.
Patel is also the captain’s go-to man when things get tough. He defended 13 runs in the final over in the first T20I at Wankhede. Axar also delivered with the bat in all three games. He was adjudged player of the series for scoring 117 runs and taking three wickets in the three games. His growth as a cricketer has been phenomenal that could only put Indian cricket right at the top.