After the delay, the drama and India fielding their third-string side, a lot of hopes were on Shikhar Dhawan-led batting unit, which could only score 132 on a tricky surface. The Indian bowlers, however, even at their effervescent best failed against the hosts, who won by four wickets.
Shikhar Dhawan does more than harm than help his cause
All eyes were certainly on the Indian skipper Shikhar Dhawan, after the news of several players being ruled out of the T20I series because of being in close contact with COVID-19 positive Krunal Pandya. While the condition certainly was slow and tacky, Dhawan being the experienced customer did more harm than good for himself. Two consecutive seasons of great IPL had propelled his chances of getting back into the first-choice Indian playing XI, especially given that he is a left-hander.
However, as witnessed in the series, the left-handed opener played in a crabby manner, especially in the second T20I, where he looked clueless. While Dhawan got two boundaries in the first three overs, where he got himself off to a great start, at 15 off 10 balls, his run-rate post nosedived. In the next four overs, he was on 26 off 24 balls, with the balls catching up to his pace. Gaikwad, at the other end, got out trying to hit the wrong delivery, after India’s slow start. While Devdutt Padikkal certainly trashed a six, Dhawan’s approach at the other end of the pitch was rather meek.
For Delhi, in the IPL, the left-hander certainly got off to a slower start, at 118.4 strike rate but going towards the death overs, his strike rate increased to 172, where he went for the kill. However, for India, this year, across the two games, the left-hander averages 26 in the powerplay but it has come at a sub-par strike rate of 92.9, with 46.4% of the deliveries being dot balls with his strike rate further decreasing to 77.8. Considering Dhawan was in contention for the opener’s slot, this series has done more harm than good for him.
IPL batters struggle to shine
Right throughout the series, the words ‘Indian Premier League’ and ‘talents’ have been thrown more often than good batting or great bowling. Such has been the buzz of the tournament and the appreciation for it, providing India with a completely second-string XI. Now it is very harsh to judge them on the basis of one ODI and one T20I but that’s how many opportunities that they will get to prove themselves. In a country where every other day, there are new batsmen showcasing their form, it was the right chance for the likes of Sanju Samson, Nitish Rana, Devdutt Padikkal and Ruturaj Gaikwad to prove their point.
While Padikkal and Gaikwad certainly showed glimpses of the form that they were known for from the IPL, together, they could only score 50 runs. Meanwhile, as discussed several times throughout the series, Samson’s opportunities in this series were aplenty but the runs and the way he converted the chances, it was highly unfulfilling. After a start in the first T20I, the right-hander was at a real struggle in the second one, with a 13-ball 7, where at no point did he look in form. To add salt to the open wounds, there was Nitish Rana, with a 12-ball 9, where they really did not take their opportunities to pip the others in the race to being part of the squad for the upcoming World T20.
Kuldeep Yadav means business
Let's just say, Kuldeep Yadav had a disastrous 2020 season, in the Indian Premier League, for the Kolkata Knight Riders and for the Indian team on their tour of Australia. While he was expected to make merry in the home Test series against England, his performance wasn't the most convincing one, which led to his hammering in the ODI series. From there on, things went downhill for the left-arm unorthodox spinner, who couldn't find a place in the Indian T20I setup, against England. To add insult to the wound, he wasn't involved in any of Kolkata Knight Riders' seven games in the IPL season, which led to this series becoming the ultimatum for him. Perform or the chances will wither away, naturally considering how Yuzvendra Chahal and Rahul Chahar have been performing in the recent past. Add Varun Chakravarthy onto the list, it put Kuldeep in a rather dire strait of affairs.
What did he need to overturn his fortune? Confidence, wickets, plenty of them to assure that his charm wasn't done and dusted but rather to start his life all over again. That's exactly what he did in the ODIs, where he was at his best in the first two encounters before being rested for the third one. In the T20I series, after missing the first contest, Kuldeep was at the helm of things for India in the second innings, with the ball. Twice, not once, twice in the innings, he had dismissed Dasun Shanaka and Minod Bhanuka with the Indian fielders in tandem, dropping his catches, not taking the reviews and so on. But that didn't leave the left-arm unorthodox spinner petrified.
Chamika Karunaratne shows both fight and fire
Being well-known as a bowler, Chamika Karunaratne was expected to be a key figure with the ball throughout the limited-overs series against India. However, as it stood, he not only bowled to perfection in the five games thus far but also batted with utmost respect and responsibility, which suggested that he was more than just a bowler who could hit. In the series thus far, the right-hander had already scored 43* and 44* in the first two ODIs against the Indian team. And he wasn't done, especially after the ODI series that he had.
In the T20I series, after failing in the first one, where he could only score three, after picking up the one wicket with the ball, the right-handed bowler was at his best in the second encounter. While he just got the one over with the ball, his batting display, in the death against Bhuvneshwar Kumar was at its best, where he was influential with a massive six. Certainly this series, the right-hander has shown enough potential to be not just a bowler but a bowling all-rounder. Rings a certain bell of Nuwan Kulasekara doesn't it? He can take the new ball, he can bat and certainly field well!