Sri Lanka 133 for 6 (de Silva 40*, Bhanuka 36, Yadav 2-30) beat India 132 for 5 (Dhawan 40, Padikkal 29, Dananjaya 2-29) by four wickets
India, who anyway brought a replacement team to Sri Lanka, were further severely hamstrung by nine of their players having to go into isolation. They had Bhuvneshwar Kumar – a bowler who bats a bit – as high as No. 6, because they had only five recognised batters available to them. And yet, they almost defended 132, their spinners – Rahul Chahar, Kuldeep Yadav, and Varun Chakravarthy – stymying Sri Lanka’s chase through the middle overs.
Sri Lanka eventually stumbled over the line to record their first T20 victory in six matches, with Dhananjaya de Silva holding the innings together with 40 not out off 34 balls. He hit the winning run with just two balls to spare, and with Sri Lanka down to their last serious batting pair.
A thigh-high full toss turns the match Sri Lanka’s way
When a squall blew through the ground at the end of the 18th over of Sri Lanka’s innings, the hosts still needed 20 to win and were three runs behind the DLS par score. They desperately needed boundaries, but had managed only one in the previous three overs. The third ball of the 19th over – bowled by Kumar – was a hit-me ball, however. India had been contending with dew already, but the few minutes of rain had made the outfield even greasier, and the ball likely difficult to grip. Chamika Karunaratne thumped the full-toss into the stands beyond wide long-on, bringing the equation down to 12 off 9 balls, and Sri Lanka did not need to hit another boundary, running twos and singles until the target was reached.
India spin themselves back into the game
Although Sri Lanka did not quite get ahead of the required rate early on, the middle-overs period in which various batters floundered against the spinners put India in serious contention to defend their total. Not a single boundary was hit in a 27-ball stretch between the ninth and 14th overs. Sri Lanka struggled with Chakravarthy’s variety in particular – the bowler returned figures of 1 for 18 from his four overs. Through the course of this boundary-less stretch, Yadav dismissed Dasun Shanaka and Minod Bhanuka. He finished with 2 for 30 from his four.
Sri Lanka cycle through their bowlers in the early overs
Although it is India who were forced to field an XI with more bowlers than they would have liked, Sri Lanka were the side intent on showcasing their bowling depth, right out of the gate. Captain Shanaka had eight different bowlers delivering the first nine overs – Dushmantha Chameera, Karunaratne, Akila Dhananjaya, Isuru Udana, Wanindu Hasaranga, Shanaka, Ramesh Mendis and de Silva all coming to the bowling crease.
The idea, clearly, was to prevent India’s batters from settling. Although the ploy did not yield many wickets, with only Ruturaj Gaikwad falling during this period, Sri Lanka were successful in keeping a lid on the scoring. India scored only 54 runs in those nine overs. Shikhar Dhawan was particularly modest, as he ambled to 28 off his first 32 balls. When he was eventually out in the 13th over, his strike rate had only marginally improved – he’d soaked up 42 balls for his 40.
A shortened India batting lineup fails to explode at the death
With Suryakumar Yadav, Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya, Manish Pandey and Ishan Kishan all unavailable due to being put in isolation, India had only five recognised batters to choose from. So although they had lost only two wickets at the end of the 15th over, the lack of firepower through the middle was a major concern (this may also likely be why Dhawan and co. batted so conservatively early on). With the likes of Hasaranga and Chameera bowling reasonably well on a slow surface, India mustered only 38 off the last 30 balls. Their last boundary came from Devdutt Padikkal, in the 16th over. Padikkal was out next ball. Batting at No. 6, Kumar, who is by no means an allrounder, had to face 11 deliveries, from which he hit 13.