After the first match of the T20I series was abandoned due to rain in Guwahati, all eyes were set on the second face-off between India and Sri Lanka. The ‘Men in Blue’ steamrolled the Lions in Indore and extended their 100% winning record in international cricket at Holkar stadium to nine matches. The match that marked the comeback of Jasprit Bumrah and Shikhar Dhawan turned out to be Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur’s game instead. India’s all-round performance sparked a never-seen-before action and gave the hosts an unassailable 1-0 lead in the three-match rubber.
After restricting the inexperienced Sri Lankan squad to 142 runs for the loss of nine wickets, India posted 144 runs by losing three wickets with 15 balls to spare and bagged a convincing win.
The show-stoppers – Thakur and Saini
A disciplined bowling action proved to be the key against Sri Lanka’s disappointing batting show. Navdeep Saini bowled a 152.1 kmph rocket and gave away 18 runs in four overs and returned with two wickets. He bowled a perfect bouncer in last over, taking the pacer Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s wicket. Thakur’s bowling attack dismantled the opposition at the death with three wickets of his own.
India’s impressive batting line-up
On the batting front, Indian openers flexed their muscles and helped the team cruise to a compelling victory. KL Rahul (45) and Shikhar Dhawan (32) dominated through the Powerplay overs and garnered 71 for the first wicket. Then, Shreyas Iyer and skipper Virat Kohli showed their range and amassed 34 and 30* runs respectively. With this match, Virat continued his sublime form and overtook his teammate Rohit Sharma to become the highest run-scorer in T20I cricket.
The visitors’ dismal bowling display
On a good batting surface, Sri Lanka’ bowling unit looked underprepared as the Kohli-led side ruled the ground with their knocks. The visitors’ failed to put strategic bowling efforts. Isuru Udana’s absence turned out to be a disadvantage for the team. He went off the field with a muscle strain in the fourth over. However, Dasun Shanaka was in a decent shift as a replacement and he managed to get through four overs for only 26 runs. They continued to struggle with the bowl, making it easy for the Men in Blue to register their comprehensive victory.
In fact, Sri Lanka’s underwhelming batting line-up helped Indian spinners to maintain their momentum. Avishka Fernando looked good at the start of the innings. But as the match progressed, the islanders kept losing wickets at regular intervals, thus, reducing the visitors to a below-par total. Kusal Perera emerged as the highest scorer with 34 runs off 28 deliveries.
The third and final decider game of the series will be played in Pune on Friday (10 Jan).