After being hammered in the first T20I, Sri Lanka put up 183 runs in the second match - which was a par score at the picturesque Dharamshala cricket ground which had a lot of help for the quicks who bend their backs and could move the ball.
Sri Lanka score was boosted by their opener Pathun Nisanka and the late flourish by their captain Dasun Shanaka, when they hit 80 of the last five overs and gave their team a fighting total.
India lost their captain for Rohit Sharma for just one run in the first over to Dushmantha Chameera and then Ishan Kishan, who was rattled by a bouncer by Lahiru Kumara, and were precariously placed at 44/2 after five overs. Both the Sri Lankan pace bowlers were clocking 143-plus and looked nippy.
But this is were the inexperience of Sri Lanka showed. Sanju Samson looked tentative when he came in and Shreyas Iyer too had edged one through the slips. There was movement for both the bowlers and one more wicket would have put the inexperienced India team under pressure. Dasun had seen how Sri Lanka innings had shaped in the first 10 overs when the ball was moving around and could have taken a leaf out it. Indian spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Yuzvendra Chahal were ineffective and the slow medium pace of Harshal Patel went for 52 runs in his over.
Instead of going for the kill and not bowling out one of the quicks Dushmantha Chameera or Lahiru Kumara, he went for the left-arm spin of Praveen Jayawickrama. That was the opening Shreyas needed to break the shackles and he went after the inexperienced spinner and hit for two consecutive sixes. He had enough pace bowling option in Chamika Karumaratnea, but the captain had other ideas which proved costly.
By the time Kumara came on to bowl his third over in the 13th over, both Shreyas and Samson has found their feet and Kumara’s third over went for 23 runs as Sanju Samson hit him for three sixes. India won with 17 balls to spare - which at one stage looked improbable.
A lot of times, captains in the T20 format don’t bowl out in-form bowlers and keep them for the end, which in the end, turns out to be too late. Instead of going for the kill and giving his main bowlers another over to prise out another wicket, Shanaka’s error handed India not only the match but the series too.
Yes, Sri Lanka’s cause was not helped by their sloppy fielding, but sometimes captains need to think ahead and take the game away from the opposition especially in the format where momentum is the key.
I am sure Dasun will learn from it sooner than later.
- Cricket enthusiast Anis Sajan is the Vice Chairman of Danube Group