India opened the new year with a thumping win over neighbours Sri Lanka in Indore to take a one-nil lead in the T20I series.
The home team’s bowling unit that was bolstered by the return of Jasprit Bumrah, did well to restrict Sri Lanka to 142. The modest target was then chased down by the top-order with minimal fuss, finishing the game with 15 deliveries and seven wickets to spare.
Navdeep Saini & Shradul Thakur shine
India had named a team that comprised of three bowlers in Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur and Jasprit Bumrah who could bowl at speeds of over 140kmph.
While all three bowlers conceded a few runs in the power play, they recovered well in the latter stages of the innings.
Saini was the most impressive of the lot, as he hurried the Lankan batsman with his searing pace. His wicket-taking deliveries in the match showcased his value for a T20 side.
He bowled the perfect yorker to castle Danushka Gunathilaka and later delivered a disconcerting bouncer to have Bhanuka Rajapaksa caught behind.
The 27-year-old managed to work up speeds as his spell progressed and even hit the 150kmph mark.
So we saw Navdeep Saini bowl a 107 kph ball, a 135 kph ball, & yes the 147 kph ball! Wow! 👏👏👏— Sanjay Manjrekar (@sanjaymanjrekar) January 7, 2020
His partner Shardul Thakur had the best figures among the Indian bowlers on the night as he picked up three wickets by cleaning the tail in his final over. Thakur too, has a superb yorker and an expertly well-disguised knuckle ball, both of which fetched him wickets at Indore.
Bumrah, the leader of the bowling attack returned to the international scene after being out of action for three months due to a stress fracture. Though there were a few signs of rust, Bumrah’s figures of one for 32 doesn’t quite reflect on how well he bowled. The pacer may not have hit consistent lengths on his return from the lay off, but was lively enough and earned his wicket by deceiving Dasun Shanaka with some clever change of pace.
Virat Kohli was economic in his use of bowlers, employing just five to finish the innings. Spinners Washington Sundar and Kuldeep Yadav were rotated along with the fast bowlers and the pair picked up three wickets between them for 67 runs.
Indian top order aces the chase
Shikhar Dhawan, who replaced Rohit Sharma at the top of the order, provided an ideal start to the chase alongside the in-form KL Rahul.
Rahul, who was excellent in the recently concluded series against West Indies, made full use of the fielding restrictions and attacked the pace bowlers in the power play. While he didn’t time the ball as consistently as he would’ve liked, even his mishits found the gaps in the field and India motored along nicely.
His partner Dhawan, gladly played second fiddle and helped stitch a 71-run opening stand.
Wanindu Hasaranga dismissed both openers as Rahul was bowled by the leg-spinner in the tenth over and Dhawan was trapped LBW a couple of overs later.
Shreyas Iyer and skipper Virat Kohli joined forces with India needing 55 runs in eight overs. The duo took a dozen deliveries to get their eye in before Kohli put his foot down on the accelerator to expedite the victory. A 17-run over from Hasaranga followed by 16 runs off the subsequent Lasith Malinga over, took India within touching distance and Kohli finished the game off in style, by whipping a short ball over the fine-leg boundary for a maximum.
The third and final game of the series will be played on January 10 at Pune. After the washout at Guwahati and their dominant performance at Indore, the hosts go into the decider with an unassailable lead.
Sri Lanka 142 for 9 (Kusal Perera 34, Thakur 3-23, Saini 2-18)
India 144 /3 (Rahul 45, Iyer 34, Kohli 30*)
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