FEBRUARY 25, 2022
Brief Scorecard: India 199 for 2 (Kishan 89, Shreyas 57*, Shanaka 1-19) beat Sri Lanka 137 for 6 (Asalanka 53*, Bhuvneshwar 2-9, V Iyer 2-36) by 62 runs
Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer blitzed a depleted Sri Lanka attack with half-centuries as India eased to a 1-0 lead. After flickering briefly in the T20I series against West Indies, Kishan caught fire on Thursday and at one stage he even threatened to reach three figures.
Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka ultimately had Kishan holing out in the 17th over for 89 off 56 balls, but Shreyas launched from the platform laid by Kishan and Rohit Sharma. Shreyas’ unbeaten 57 off 28 balls swelled India’s total to 199 for 2, which proved well beyond Sri Lanka’s grasp.
The visitors sleepwalked their way to 57 for 4 in their first ten overs. In stark contrast, India had scored 58 for 0 in the powerplay alone and the momentum seamlessly switched from Kishan to Rohit to Shreyas.
Charith Asalanka held off India with a fine fifty in the chase before Rohit’s men wrapped up a 62-run victory.
The opening salvo
After Lahiru Kumara and Dushmantha Chameera rushed India’s openers in the first two overs with speeds north of 140kph, Kishan lined up first-change Chamika Karunaratne for a triptych of fours. Kishan then used the pace and bounce of the quicks to his advantage, pulling Kumara and Chameera for sixes. Kishan claimed six of the seven boundaries India had hit in the powerplay.
Rohit had dashed out of the blocks when he opened during the T20Is against West Indies, but he was largely becalmed in the early exchanges against Sri Lanka. He did hit a higher gear when he picked a googly from Jeffrey Vandersay and sent it over midwicket for six.
Kumara snapped the opening stand at 111 in the 12th over when he bowled Rohit for 44, with a cutter that kept low. It could’ve been snapped much earlier had Janith Liyanage not dropped Kishan at deep midwicket when the batter was on 43. Liyanage eventually caught him at the same position, off Shanaka, but the miss cost Sri Lanka 46 runs.
Kishan rumbled to a 30-ball half-century and celebrated it with a helicoptered boundary between deep midwicket and wide long-on. While Vandersay kept hiding the ball away from his swinging arc with wrong’uns, the seamers kept pitching it in Kishan’s arc.
In the enforced absence of Wanindu Hasaranga, who has tested positive for Covid-19 once again and hence has not even made this trip, and Maheesh Theekshana, Sri Lanka’s attack lacked any penetration.
Shreyas’ finishing act
Shreyas, who was bumped up to No.3 had a fairly quiet start: he was on a run-a-ball 12 at one point. He then exploded against Chameera’s pace and Karunaratne’s lack of pace, taking them for a combined 43 off 16 balls. He brought up the fastest half-century of the game, off a mere 25 balls, and pushed India closer to 200.
Sri Lanka’s rickety chase
Sri Lanka lost Pathum Nissanka first ball – cleaned up by a Bhuvneshwar Kumar delivery that shot low. Bhuvneshwar took out Kamil Mishara, the other opener, too, having him drag a catch to midwicket. After being sloppy in the field, Liyanage was similarly sloppy with the bat, labouring to 11 off 17 balls. When the returning Ravindra Jadeja found quick turn to have Dinesh Chandimal stumped for 10 in the tenth over, Sri Lanka were 51 for 4. That they got a respectable 137 for 6 was down to Asalanka’s effort. However, he lacked substantial support from the other end as the next-best score for Sri Lanka was No.8 Chameera’s 24.
The rapidly rising asking rate allowed India to experiment with Venkatesh Iyer’s medium-pace and debutant Deepak Hooda’s offbreaks. Venkatesh came away with 2 for 36 in his three overs while Hooda went wicketless in his three overs.
No Virat Kohli. No Rishabh Pant. No Suryakumar Yadav. No Deepak Chahar. No problem for India.