The conditions were not favourable to India. And the young side failed to live up to the expectations. Sri Lanka took advantage of both the factors to hand their fancied Asian neighbours a 2-1 Twenty 20 International series defeat in Colombo on Thursday.
Celebrating his 24th birthday in style, leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga showed exactly why he is ranked as the No. 2 T20I bowler in the world, taking four for 9 as a mediocre India limped to 81 for eight in 20 overs. Bowling superbly on a ‘day of leggies,’ Rahul Chahar took three for 15, but Dhananjaya de Silva and Hasaranga helped the hosts overcome the low target losing only three wickets with 33 balls to spare.
With this, Sri Lanka — who had lost five previous T20I series before this one — ended India’s eight-series unbeaten run in T20Is, which began in 2019. It is Sri Lanka’s first-ever T20 series win over India. The Covid-19 related isolation of nine players affected the team balance adversely with the rookie Indian batsmen looked miserable with the ball not coming on to the bat.
The small target gave the hosts the luxury to adopt a cautious approach. They too struggled against the Indian spinners before overhauling the target with 5.3 overs to spare. India had won the preceding ODI series 2-1.
Rahul Chahar dismissed both the openers — Avishka Fernando (12) and Minod Bhanuka (18) — and Sadeera Samarawickrama (6) but such a small total did not give India any chance to script a comeback. Sri Lanka’s top batsman Dhananjaya de Silva (23 not out), though, nudged the ball around nicely for singles and doubles to take the side past the finish line.
De Silva showed when scoring boundaries is not possible, working the ball around is the best way, something the Indian batsmen failed to do. After shining with the ball in his hand, Hasaranga also scored 14 runs.
India would’ve been bowled out for a much worse score had bowlers Kuldeep Yadav (23 not out off 28 balls) and Bhuvneshwar (16 off 32 balls) not saved them the blushes after they were reduced to 36 for five in nine overs. In a questionable call, they opted to bat first and logged their third-lowest total ever in T20Is.
The footwork of the Indians against the spinners did not inspire any confidence, looking into the future, as they remained doubtful whether to play on front-foot or the back-foot. Hasaranga returned exceptional figures while Dananjaya gave away just 11 runs in his four overs.
Sri Lanka Too Strong
Only three Indian batsmen could manage the double-digit score with number seven Kuldeep Yadav being the best with his 23-run unbeaten knock. Such was the dominance of the home bowlers that India hit only four boundaries in the entire 20-over innings.
The pitch was much better than the one used for the second match and it helped the bowlers as well as in stroke-play, making it an even contest. There was bounce available and pacer Dushmantha Chameera hit the deck hard to get one to fly, which Shikhar Dhawan (0) could not connect properly, just managing an edge that was taken in slips.
Devdutt Padikkal, who looked in sublime touch, and Ruturaj Gaikwad, played some fluent shots before the hosts suddenly turned the heat on the Indians. First Padikkal (9) was run out and then wrist-spinner Hasaranga caused a flutter by dismissing Sanju Samson (0) and Gaikwad (14) in a space of three balls.
Samson went on the back foot to miss the line when he should have been defending on the front foot while Gaikwad offered the front foot but was hoodwinked by a googly and was adjudged leg-before. It left India reeling at 25 for four inside the Power-play.