by Deepanshu Srivastava
After two disappointing defeats of team India in the World Cup and the Asia Cup held in September and October 2022, BCCI handed over the reins of the T20 I series against Sri Lanka held recently on January 3, 5, and 7 to the last year’s IPL- hero and dynamic youngster Hardik Pandya and a fully new squad having young cricketers. For the first time, there were no senior legendary players including Rohit Hitman Sharma and Virat Kohli in the team.
In the first encounter held at Wankhede stadium, Mumbai on January 3, young India started its journey with a win. Although in the second match of 3- the match series held at MCA Stadium, Pune, team India lost by 16 runs and the series stood at 1-1, the determined and energetic team India annihilated Sri Lankan Tigers by a big margin of 91 runs in the series decider held at Rajkot to clinch the series by 2-1. Let’s have closer look at the highlights of the 3 matches.
First T20 I
Held at Mumbai, India set a target of 163 runs for Sri Lanka in the allotted 20 overs. India’s opening pair Kishen and Gill could not survive beyond 2.3 overs when Gill was superbly dismissed by carrom ball spinner Theekshana at a meager score of 7 when India’s score was 27 /1. One down SKY, who is elevated as Vice Captain, took charge in place of Gill but shocked everyone with his untimely careless high-rise shot and went back to dug out at a score of 7 when India’s score was 38/2.Samson(5),
Kishen (37)and Skipper Pandya(29) also could not face the smart bowling changes by Sri Lanka’s skipper Shanaka and left Team India lurching at 94/5 in 14.1 overs. The 68 -runs partnership between Axar Patel and Deepak Hooda in the remaining 5.5 overs guided India to a respectable total of 162 runs. In its reply, Sri Lanka too had a poor start and scored 24/2. The new bee Shivam Mavi (4/22) supported by Jammu Express Umran Malik(2/27) and Harshal Patel (2/41) wrapped up Sri Lanka’s inning when it was 2 runs behind the Indian total. Thus India’s young brigade won the opening match by 2 runs and took a lead of 1-0 in the series.
Second T20 I
Held in the cultural capital of Maharashtra, Pune on January 5, Indian Skipper Pandya won the toss and invited Sri Lanka to bat first. Playing carefully for squaring the series, Sri Lanka amassed a big total of 206/6 in 20 overs for Team India to chase 207 runs for a win. But, as in the first T20 I, the opening pair of Kishen (2)and Gill(5) once again could not put up a good total and India’s total was 21/2 with the help of 10 extra runs. Except for a smashing inning of SKY (51 off 36 balls) and Axar Patel (65 off 31 balls), the rest of the batters fell prey to Sri Lanka’s mediocre bowling and India lost the match by 16 runs. The series was now open at 1-1. And every cricket lover was anxiously waiting for the series decider.
Third T20 I
Held in Rajkot on January 5, India batted first. It was the inning of SKY, who mesmerized the audience as well as the Sri Lankan team with his 112* off just 51 balls with 7 boundaries and 9 sixes to pile up the Indian Score at 228/5. Tripathi (35 off 16), Gill (46 off 36), and Axar (21*off 9) gave good support to make India reach the mammoth total of 228/5.
Not much was left for Indian bowlers, who finished the match when Sri Lanka’s total was 137, all out in 20 overs. Indian bowlers Arshdeep Singh (3/20 off 2 .4 overs), Pandya (2/30 off 4 overs), Chahal (2/30 off 3 overs) and Malik (2/31 off 3 overs) did all the damage with their disciplined bowling and gave Team India its series win by 2-1. In this match, SKY was not the limit for ‘SKY’.
About the Author:
Deepanshu Srivastava, a prolific sports and scriptwriter is from Pune. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.