Sri Lanka won a bilateral series against India after 13 years as they defeated a depleted Indian setup by 7 wickets. Playing with only five batters in the last two T20Is, the Indian team found it tough to get back at the Lankans. The inexperience and anxiety showed upon the Indian performance throughout while the hosts emerged as the ones with more control and planning.
India: Learning it the hard way
The Indian team faced a major setback after winning the first T20I. Krunal Pandya was tested positive for Covid19 and 8 others were put under strict isolation. It also meant that Coach Dravid and captain Dhawan only had 11 players to choose from. Needless to say, everyone available would play. However, the catch laid in the limited number of batters in the team. India was left with a maximum of five batting and no all-rounder options, a balance that could only hang in by a thread. And to make matters worse, three of those five batters were yet to debut.
The team that took to stage on Wednesday was arguably the weakest Indian team ever. Paddikal, Gaikwad, Rana, and Sakariya were handed out T20I debuts and Bhuvneshwar Kumar was supposed to be batting No.6. It was all up to Dhawan, Samson, and the debutants to deliver with the bat on a sluggish wicket, not once but twice in two days. While they did manage to put up a strong front in the Second T20I, they fell out miserably in the Third. India could only manage scores of 131/6 and 81/8 in the two games played, both batting first. The second especially exposed the Indian batting so much so that Kuldeep Yadav top-scored with the bat scoring 23 in 28 balls. Every single batter at the crease looked clueless of the situation and lacked the intent to even connect bat to the ball, let alone getting runs. It is probably the only time that this week an Indian setup will turn up to an international game, but with the amount of exposure the youngsters have had recently, a better performance was a fair expectation.
Having said that, these young guns in their early careers had a great experience playing for the country. A load of pressure and expectations bestowed upon them will only help them getting more matured and more responsible at their game. Learning it the hard way is perhaps the best way to strive for excellence. It therefore wouldn’t be a surprise to see a few of the debutants from this series making it big in the future.
Sri Lanka celebrates a memorable series win:
Irrespective of the situation, defeating an international side in the middle of a rough patch is worthy of pride. The Lankans showed immense respect and camaraderie to take on the Indian setup despite their main players missing out. Moreover, they made sure to bring out their A-game against the Indians and make their opponents dance to their tunes.
There were a couple of emerging talents in the Lankan team that one should eagerly look out for. The World No. 2 T20I bowler, Wanindu Hasaranga is no less than a magician and needs to be handled well. Difficult to judge the ball off his hand, Hasaranga picked up 7 in the series including a splendid 4/9 in the final T20I. He remained economical throughout the three matches and also contributed immensely with the bat. The likes of Chamika Karunaratne and Avishka Fernando were amongst others who impressed one and all. Karunaratne right across the entire tour was phenomenal and gave Sri Lanka the needed impetus to go big towards the end. The emergence of Dasun Shanaka as a leader though is the biggest positive to take for the hosts. In absence of a few of their main players, Shanaka managed all his options well and led from the front bowling and batting in the important overs.
Deservingly, the player of the series is #WaninduHasaranga. Sri Lanka have a fine player here and I hope he grows into the kind of player he can become. Hasaranga, Asalanka, Karunaratne, Avishka, Bhanuka, Dhananjaya, Chameera…so many pluses for Sri Lanka.
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) July 29, 2021
The series win certainly deserves a celebration and is an apt way to prepare for the ICC T20 World Cup scheduled later this year. Sri Lanka will need to play the qualifiers with Ireland, Namibia, and the Netherlands in their group. If not anything else, this India series has given the world a few Sri Lankan superstars to look forward to in the upcoming few years.