JULY 15, 2021
Brief Scorecard: 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
As has been the case right through the tour, Sri Lanka were decent with the ball, containing India to 164 for 5, but their batting let them down once more. Between the end of the 5th and 16th over, Sri Lanka scored only 69 runs, and lost five wickets. Essentially, with the likes of debutant Varun Chakravarthy impressing, and Yuzvendra Chahal delivering another outstanding spell, Sri Lanka lacked the firepower to mount a serious challenge.
Suryakumar Yadav makes it look easy
Already one of India’s best batters in the ODIs, Suryakumar Yadav played the defining innings in the first T20I, producing the game’s only half-century – with 50 off 34. Where others struggled for timing on this surface, Yadav’s batting was effortless. He hit his seventh ball for four, whipping his wrists to loft it through wide long-on. Later in that Wanindu Hasaranga over, he cracked a short ball past backward point for four. He read slower balls and shoveled them over his shoulder for four, sent overpitched deliveries scorching through cover, and for his last two boundaries, slog swept Isuru Udana over cow corner, and launched Hasaranga back over his head to complete his fifty. He holed out next ball, in the 16th over, but had given India’s innings its backbone.
Sri Lanka tight in the closing overs
At 101 for 2 at the end of the 12th over, and two set batters (Shikhar Dhawan on 41 off 29 and Yadav on 30 off 22) at the crease, a total of around 180 beckoned. But none of the last eight overs yielded more than a single boundary. And none went for more than 10. The last two overs, bowled by Dushmantha Chameera and Chamika Karunaratne were especially good – Chameera having Hardik Pandya caught behind and giving away only eight in the penultimate over, before Karunaratne conceded nine in the 20th. Although a target of 165 was always going to test Sri Lanka, it didn’t seem out of reach. Chameera, who took 2 for 24, and Hasaranga, who took 2 for 28, were the hosts’ standout bowlers.
Sri Lanka’s middle order struggle around debutant Asalanka
At the end of the powerplay, Sri Lanka had been reasonably well-placed, at 46 for 1. But then came two quick wickets – Dhananjaya de Silva bowled by Chahal for 9, before Avishka Fernando holed out against Bhuvneshwar Kumar for 26. And then, Sri Lanka largely plodded through the middle overs, Charith Asalanka the only exception. Ashen Bandara soaked up 19 balls for his 9. Next man in, Dasun Shanaka hit only one boundary in his 14-ball 16.
Although Asalanka was excellent, hitting three sixes and three fours in his 44 off 26 balls, he could not make up enough ground to account for team-mates who could not score anywhere near as quickly as the target required. Asalanka was eventually caught at deep midwicket in the 16th over, trying desperately for another six.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar cleans up the tail
Kumar wasn’t far from having a wicket first ball, when Fernando’s outside edge flew over Prithvi Shaw at slip. He would later get Fernando out in the eighth over, caught at deep square leg, but it was in the closing overs that Kumar was most penetrative, sealing the match for India. He took three of the last four wickets, getting the dangerous Karunaratne to play back on to his stumps, before dismissing Udana and Chameera in the space of three balls in the 19th over. He finished with the game’s best figures of 4 for 22, having been more economical than any of his compatriots, save Chahal, who took 1 for 19 from his four overs.