India 132 for 5 (Dhawan 40, Padikkal 29, Dananjaya 2-29) lost to Sri Lanka 133 for 6 (de Silva 40*, Bhanuka 36, Yadav 2-30) by four wickets.
The T20 series between India and Sri Lanka is well and truly alive. Dhananjaya de Silva emerged as the star performer for the hosts in the second T20 against India on Tuesday as Sri Lanka won the game by 4 wickets.
India had to play with only five specialist batsmen out of whom three were debutants Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Nitish Rana. Lack of firepower lower down the order meant India were restricted to a paltry total of 132/5 runs in the first innings. Sri Lanka chased down the total in 19.4 overs and levelled the three-match series 1-1.
The problems for India started a day before the start of the second T20 international. On the day of the second T20 international scheduled earlier, as many as 9 Indian players got ruled out of the series, which included seven members who had played the first T20 game.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India revealed that Krunal Pandya was tested positive for COVID-19 and eight of his close contacts have also been ruled out of the ongoing T20I series against Sri Lanka. Prithvi Shaw, Suryakumar Yadav, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Ishan Kishan, Yuzvendra Chahal, K Gowtham, and Deepak Chahar were the eight players identified as close contacts. Though, the Board didn’t mention the names of all those cricketers in its media release. But, Head coach, Rahul Dravid later shed more light on the matter and revealed that they were only left with 11 players to pick from the main squad.
De Silva stands up in the do-or-die encounter
Sri Lanka isn’t the most dominant team currently in world cricket. They are amongst the worst-performing teams in the shortest format. Until this game, Sri Lanka had lost 13 out of their last 14 T20I games. One could imagine how much this win would mean to them. The win in the second T20 would give them immense confidence. It shouldn’t come as a surprise if the hosts went onto win the series as well.
Sri Lankan bowlers were brilliant, especially the spinners, who dried up the runs in the middle overs and took the crucial wickets. India could only score 132 runs but Sri Lanka still had to chase it. Minod Bhanuka played a handy 36-run knock at the top and kept the scoreboard ticking and made sure the hosts don’t fall too much behind the required run-rate.
Dhanajaya de Silva, who hadn’t done anything significant prior to this game, turned up with a heroic performance. The Sri Lankan batsman kept his calm and played right till the end. He exhibited how brilliantly he can handle spin and why Sri Lanka rates him so highly.
De Silva waited for the bad balls to attack and made sure he kept the scoreboard ticking. He scored an unbeaten 40 off 34 balls and made sure he stays right till the very end and guide his team home.
India’s lack of fire-power in the lower order hurt them badly
The absence of their main players in the team was quite evident as the Men in Blue couldn’t even cross the 150-run mark. India played with five specialist batsmen, which had three debutants Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Nitish Rana. Shikhar Dhawan and Devdutt Padikkal scored 40 and 29 respectively but got out at crucial stages of the game.
They lacked firepower lower down the order and as a result, couldn’t end the innings as they would have liked. India dearly missed a specialist batsman at no. 6. In the end, they fell short by at least 15-20 runs. India will not have the luxury of adding more batsmen into their playing XI in the final T20 international as well. Under such circumstances, one of them has to play a big knock on Thursday if they want to lift the trophy.
Sanju Samson and consistency are two opposite poles
Perhaps consistency isn’t something Sanju Samson weighs in heavily. In the past few years, he had maintained in his interviews that he wants to be someone who would win games and make an impact and not someone who would just score those 30s and 40s consistently.
However, for him to seal a place in the Indian team, which has so much competition, he ought to be consistent with his performances. The ongoing series is looked as a golden opportunity for him to present his case for the T20 World Cup. The Rajasthan Royals skipper, however, hasn't been able to make the most of it.
Sanju Samson was the senior-most batsman after Shikhar Dhawan for India in the second T20I. He had a big responsibility on his shoulders but failed to impress once again. He struggled badly against spin. He looked awful against Akila Dhananjaya and Wanindu Hasaranga and it felt disappointing to see that.
The final T20 international on Thursday would be one last opportunity for him to turn heads. Though, it won’t be enough if one looks at the bigger picture.
The series is tied at 1-1 going into the final T20I between India and Sri Lanka which will be played on Thursday at R Premadasa Stadium. This will be last game of India tour of Sri Lanka 2021. Read More: India vs England Test 2021 - Virat Kohli would hope to replicate 2018 form