India 164 for 5 (Suryakumar 50, Dhawan 46, Chameera 2-24, Hasaranga 2-28) beat Sri Lanka 126 (Asalanka 44, Bhuvneshwar 4-22, Chahar 2-24) by 38 runs
On India tour of Sri Lanka 2021, India have made a winning start in the three-match T20 series after beating Sri Lanka by 38 runs on Sunday. They came into the game with a star-studded batting line-up, which included both the wicket-keeper batsmen Sanju Samson and Ishan Kishan. However, the slowness of the surface and bigger boundaries denied the team post as many runs as they would have wanted in the first innings. A valuable 50-run knock by Suryakumar Yadav and decent cameos from Shikhar Dhawan and Sanju Samson helped them reach 164 runs in the first innings.
By the end of the first innings, the Indian bowling attack, however, got the idea of how and where to bowl on the surface. The attack led by Bhuvneshwar Kumar didn’t disappoint either as they bundled out Sri Lanka for just 126 runs in the second innings.
Yuvzendra Chahal was brilliant in the middle overs eventually ending with figures of 1-19 in his allotted 4 overs, while Varun Chakravarthy made a decent international debut taking 1-28 in 4 overs. After a long time, Bhuvneshwar Kumar got wickets in the death overs, as is his forte. The senior bowler ended with figures of 4-22 in 3.3 overs and was declared Player of the Match. Deepak Chahar also took 2-24 in his 3 overs.
Having said that, despite winning the game, India will have some areas to improve on. Here’s a look at three talking points from the game:
Suryakumar Yadav’s red hot form continues
Suryakumar Yadav yet again played a valuable knock for his team on Sunday. He began where he left off in the last game and hammered the opposition left, right and centre. The Mumbai Indian batsman struggled a bit today, especially against Chamika Karunaratne.
However, he still managed to score a 33-ball half-century at a strike rate of 147. Had he got out early during India’s innings, the Men in Blue perhaps would have ended below 150. Suryakumar Yadav is raising his stock with each innings in international cricket. Given the ease at which he plays and takes on the opposition, it wouldn’t be a wise decision if he doesn’t make it into India’s T20 World Cup squad.
Shikhar Dhawan also played a decent 46-run knock but didn’t look at his fluent best. His strike rate of 127 would attract some criticism. Given the form he is in, the team would certainly want him to play at a better strike rate, given the depth Indian batting has.
Top show from the Indian bowlers
India would have loved to have scored 10-15 runs more in the first innings. Bigger boundaries and slowness of the surface didn’t allow them to do so. However, it eventually proved more than enough as the bowlers bundled out Sri Lanka for just 126 runs.
India were struggling to pick early wickets in the ODI series. And perhaps for this very reason, they bowled with four different bowlers in the first six overs in the first T20I. Much to their delight, they reaped rewards as well. Krunal Pandya got the first wicket in the form of Bhanuka Rajapaksa in the third over. Yuzvendra Chahal and Bhuvneshwar Kumar then put the brakes on Sri Lanka’s run-rate after sending both Silva and Fernando back to the pavilion in the seventh and eighth over respectively.
Yuzvendra Chahal was impressive during his four-over spell. He didn’t hesitate once before giving more flight and taking the pace away from his deliveries. He got one wicket in the form of Dhananjaya de Silva and it was perhaps the best wicket of the game. Yuzvendra Chahal’s near-perfect performance with the ball would help his case for a spot in the T20 World Cup.
Varun Chakravarthy gave only two runs in the first over of his debut international game. He was hammered for two huge sixes and was put under pressure in his next two overs. However, he bowled a decent last over to finish with 1 for 28 in 4 overs. With him being a contender for the T20 World Cup, Varun Chakravarthy should play the next two games. He didn’t have an outstanding game with the ball but is likely to improve in the coming games.
Deepak Chahar was the bowler who provided the most crucial breakthrough that turned the match in India’s favour when Sri Lankan batsman Charith Asalanka was batting at a quickfire 44. Chahar took another wicket in the same over and virtually sealed the victory for his team. He ended with figures of 2-24 in 3 overs.
It must be said that Deepak Chahar has unarguably played an outstanding role on the tour thus far and deserves all the praise. Read More: The Curious Case of Kuldeep Yadav
Shall India look beyond Hardik Pandya?
Hardik Pandya has batted thrice on the ongoing tour and has a highest score of 19 thus far. His scores in the three innings read 0, 19 and 10. He scored 10 runs on Sunday in the first T20 international. India could have reached the 180-run mark had Hardik stayed at the crease for a little longer.
His returns with the ball too have been disappointing. He has not picked more than one wicket in a single game in the series and never looked like causing trouble to the opposition. Given that it is the last limited overs series for India before the T20 World Cup, Hardik Pandya’s lean run should raise concerns for Team India.
There are only two games left for him to make the selectors believe he is definitely the answer to India’s position of an all-rounder in the team. Having said that, India don’t really have potent options in the all-rounders' department either.
For India to win the World Cup, Hardik Pandya should be hundred percent fit and in his prime form. There are still two games left and it remains to be seen if Hardik could produce something special with his bat and bowl in hand.
Questions to be answered?
1. With Hardik Pandya enduring a lean patch, can management take the risk of playing Krishnappa Gowtham in place of him as an all-rounder in the team?
2. Ishan Kishan played at number six position in the batting order in the first ODI. Could this be his permanent spot for the rest of the series or we could see some change in the batting order?
The second T20I between India and Sri Lanka will be played on July 27 at R Premadasa Stadium. The ongoing India vs Sri Lanka T20I series, is of three games.