PUNE: It was one of those days where fans got a return for their money, bowlers got a reward for their effort and Indian team management came to a know what can happen if Virat Kohli bats at No. 6!
On Friday, as India crushed a hapless Sri Lanka by 78 runs in the third T20I at the Gahunje stadium here, a middle-order collapse suffered by the hosts was covered up by Shardul Thakur‘s late batting blitz and Manish Pandey‘s maturity.
The visitors were the architects of their own demise after skipper Lasith Malinga chose to bowl first, expecting the dew to aid them while chasing. But the Lankans were bowled out instead for a meagre 123 while chasing 202. With this win, India clinched the three-match T20 series 2-0, with the first match being washed out.
The game offered yet more twists in the ever-changing Indian T20I batting lineup. Kohli promoted Sanju Samson, who replaced Rishabh Pant in the team, to No.3. The wicketkeeper batsman left the ground after playing just two balls, hitting the first one for six and being dismissed off the second. He left yelling at himself.
The other change – Pandey in place of Shivam Dube – yielded better results. The Karnataka-batsman scored a smart 18-ball 31 at No. 5 despite regular wickets falling from the other end. Thakur made his case in the team stronger by adding 22 runs in eight balls later on.
Shikhar Dhawan (52; 36b, 7x4s, 1×6) and KL Rahul (54; 36b, 5x4s, 1×6) added 97 runs for the first wicket, only to see the team go to 122-4 within three overs. Dhawan had his stars to thank, though. He was dropped on one by Dasun Shanaka and soon came into his stride with a couple of clean boundaries. Rahul, on the other hand, took charge of keeping the tempo up. Not even once did the visitors have the upper hand in the first 10 overs, in which they used six different bowlers.
With the hosts at 92/0 after 10 overs, the middle-order had the foundation to play carefree cricket. However, the solid start was wasted and the next three overs saw four wickets fall. Left-arm spinner Lakshan Sandakan removed Dhawan on 52 in the 11th over, the opener sweeping one straight to deep mid-wicket. Soon, Samson was trapped leg-before by offspinner Dhananjaya de Silva’s googly.
Manish Pandey, who came in at No. 4, stitched a 44-run partnership with Kohli for the fifth wicket. Kohli was in his elements, punishing the loose ones and being wristy whenever the ball was near his pads. The Indian skipper overestimated his speed and got run out while going back for the second run when there was hardly a chance.
Off the next ball, Washington Sundar was gone, cutting the ball straight to third man. However, Thakur’s surprising late blitz of 22 runs off eight balls allowed the hosts to reach 201-6. With 201 runs to defend, the Indian bowlers were a charged up lot. Jaspit Bumrah got rid of Dhanushka Gunathilaka in the first over and Thakur dismissed Avishka Fernando. Manish Pandey’s quick thinking got Oshada Fernando run out to leave the visitors reeling at 26/4 in the fourth over.
Navdeep Saini, who was having a yorker competition with Bumrah in pre-match training, got his first wicket after castling Kusal Perera. Angelo Matthews and Dhananjaya de Silva added 68 runs for the fifth wicket but once the former fell, it was all over for the visitors.
Source : timesofindia