In a tour of ‘firsts’, Sri Lanka rediscovered the feeling of victory today in Colombo as they thumped India by seven wickets to register their first T20I series win at home in three years. They did so by tormenting India by spin, with the visitors not having a clue against the Lankan spinners.
Where India lost the match
The moment Shikhar Dhawan uttered the words, “We will bat”, India lost the series. Yep, as simple as that.
The Great Indian Toss blunder
For India, after the underwhelming showing with the bat yesterday, the plan seemed simple: win the toss and bowl. With only 5 specialist batsmen at their disposal, it made all the sense in the world for India to chase, for it would then help the batsmen in pacing their innings properly, something they struggled to do in the second T20I. Yet despite the coin toss going India’s way, Dhawan - most likely on advice from the management - opted to bat. And the worst fears came true as the top-order collapsed, exposing Bhuvneshwar Kumar INSIDE THE POWERPLAY. To not opt to chase against a Lankan side - evidently short on power-hitters - that had posted 111 and 130 the last two times it batted first was bizarre enough, but the decision was inexplicable given India had only five batsmen. Particularly after Dhawan admitted post the second T20I that he and the other batsmen consciously batted conservatively due to the absence of depth. The Covid outbreak made it near-impossible for India to win the T20Is, but the management’s decisions ended up exacerbating the side’s problems.
Captain Dasun Shanaka should stop under-bowling himself
We do not know if Dasun Shanaka considers himself a batting all-rounder. But one thing has been crystal clear across six games in the tour - he simply does not rate himself as a bowler. It does look like he has a kind of an inferiority complex. And it’s a shame because he really should be bowling more, particularly on these sluggish sub-continent wickets. Perhaps his overall T20 ER of 8.85 has played a part in the under-bowling, but in this tour, he’s shown that he can be really effective in the right conditions. Not only does he bowl at an uncomfortable, Pollard-ish pace that usually frustrates batsmen, he also possesses excellent variations that, at times, leaves them stumped. Case in point is the dismissal of Nitish Rana today, where he induced a leading edge via a smart back-of-the-hand slower ball. He has also shown in this tour that he is a man with a golden arm, providing important breakthroughs (Pandya in the second ODI, Shaw in the third ODI, Gaikwad in the first T20I and Nitish Rana today) at crucial junctures. Should the select wickets in the UAE (and Oman) mimic the Colombo track today, it would be a no-brainer for Shanaka to get himself bowling after the powerplay.
Hot take Zone
Sri Lanka could prove to be giant slayers come the WT20
Let us make something clear first: Sri Lanka will have to play exceptionally well to even make it to the Super 12 of the WT20. Overcoming Ireland and Netherlands will be no mean feat, and they’d have to definitely be at their very best to even make it out of the qualifiers. That said, if they do make it to the Super 12, there is every chance that the Lankans could prove to be giant slayers. Especially if the wickets behave like they’ve done across these three matches in Colombo, where spin has proven to be king. In Chameera they have a potentially world-class seamer, but it’s their three-pronged spin-attack of Hasaranga, Dananjaya and Mendis (or Sandakkan) that teams would dread coming up against, particularly on slow wickets.
Hasaranga’s impeccable record speaks for itself, but where Sri Lanka could hurt teams is if Dananjaya - like he did today - joins the leggie in spinning a web around the batters. There is still the batting which is a clear cause of concern, but you suspect that if wickets in the UAE turn out to be 125-130-ish slugfests, then Sri Lanka, even with this inexperienced batting line-up, would fancy their chances against any side in the world. For low scores will neutralize their biggest weakness, the inability to gun down bowling units with power-hitting.
SC Player ratings from the 3rd #SLvIND T20I— SportsCafe (@IndiaSportscafe) July 29, 2021
10 - W Hasaranga
9.5 - A Dananjaya, Rahul Chahar
9 - D. Chameera
8 - D. Shanaka, C Karunaratne, Ramesh Mendis, Varun CV
7 - B.Kumar, K. Yadav
2 - R. Gaikwad, D. Padikkal
1 - N. Rana
0 - Sanju Samson, Shikhar Dhawan
Who else but Wanindu Hasaranga? Yesterday the leggie broke into the top 2 of the T20I rankings, but today he bowled as if he were the best bowler in the world. Figures of 4/9 - his best ever in T20Is - are ridiculous by itself, but it’s absurd when you factor in that he ended up dismissing three of the five batsmen present in the Indian side. Whisper quietly but, with this showing, Hasaranga has most definitely earned himself an IPL contract. And boy does he not deserve it.
Match Frenzy O Meter - A Tragicomedy
The match was not rubbish for the mere fact that you could tune in and have a good laugh. At India’s expense, obviously.