India managed to overcome some nervous moments as they defeated Sri Lanka in the first T20I by 38 runs. Sent in to bat first, the visitors, who had two debutants in their XI — Varun Chakravarthy and Prithvi Shaw — lost their first wicket of the very first ball but mature knocks from Shikhar Dhawan and Suryakumar Yadav helped them to a competitive 164 on the board.
The Sri Lankans did fight back, with Charith Asalanka scoring a quick 44 but crucial strikes from Deepak Chahar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, in the end, ensured that the Men in Blue took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Here are the talking points from the 1st T20I between India and Sri Lanka.
Sanju Samson impresses but fails to get a big one
Watching Sanju Samson bat is an experience in itself, if the IPL is anything to go by. He will wow the fans with his extraordinary strokes and the nonchalance with which he takes on the best bowlers but just when he is on course for a big knock, he will leave us all distraught. The wicket keeper started with a six and then a boundary off the bowling of Akila Dananjaya and looked composed while batting at number three.
However, just when one was hopeful of a defining knock from the player, Sanju was beaten by a skiddy delivery from Wanindu Hasaranga that straightened after pitching. The Indian casually tried to defend the ball without expecting it to arrive quickly, which sent him packing for 27 off 20 deliveries.
The Kerala player had gotten off to a good start in the third ODI as well, scoring 46 in his debut game, but with limited chances to grab his spot in the squad, he will be eager to play a defining knock in the next game. With a number of players vying for a place in the middle order, Samson will rue his missed opportunities in the first game.
Yuzvendra Chahal is back to his best
The series was expected to be the final straw for Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, who have struggled in white-ball cricket for India of late. While Kuldeep was not even a starter in his IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders’ XI, Chahal had fallen off the pedestal, and he needed a solid outing in Sri Lanka to prove why he should be in the T20 World Cup team.
Chahal had averaged just 37.85 in ODIs last year and had been dropped from the last few T20Is against England as well, besides having a below-par IPL season. However, he has shown signs of returning back to form. He picked up five wickets in two games in the ODI series, and carried forward the momentum in the first T20I as well, conceding only 4.80 runs an over. 45.8% of his deliveries were dots, and he ended with 1-19 after four overs.
Though picking Chahal over Rahul Chahar, who had taken three in his debut game in the third ODI was a surprise, it proved to be the right decision in the end. The former, who was not afraid to flight the ball consistently and vary his pace consistently, is getting enough game time ahead of the T20 World Cup, and if he can continue his run, he will be a sure-shot in the Indian squad.
Hardik the all-rounder is having a terrible run
Hardik Pandya has the best strike rate in the Indian Premier League among Indian batters, which displays his big-hitting skills and prowess in the death overs. Though Hardik has been inconsistent with his bowling following back surgery, he was indispensable to India due to his batting in the last few overs. However, the all-rounder is in the midst of a slump, which has only affected India’s team balance.
Before the first T20I, where Hardik managed 10 off 12 with the bat, he had scored 205 runs this year in white-ball cricket for India at an average of just 25.62. He was in terrible form in the IPL as well, scoring 52 runs at a strike rate of just over 118.
The pressure seems to be piling with Hardik unable to bowl at 100 percent, and his batting, which was the only reason he was in the team, not up to the mark.
Dushmantha Chameera can be a star
Chameera started off proceedings by dismissing Prithvi Shaw in the very first ball of the match with a perfect swinging delivery. In a team that is struggling, Chameera has stood out with his consistent showings throughout the year. In all T20Is in 2021, the Sri Lankan has picked up 12 wickets in seven matches at an economy rate of 6.57. A whopping 56.7 percent of his deliveries have been dots, which only highlights his consistency.
He was on fire in the first T20I against India, picking up Shaw and then troubling Samson with the shorter deliveries. He hit Samson on the head with a targeted bouncer and was brilliant at the death as well. Chameera displayed his wide array of skills in the last few overs, with his bouncers, slower ones, and yorkers making it tough to score runs. Since the dismissal of Suryakumar Yadav in the 16th over of the innings, India hit just one four and a six, and a lot of it had to do with the disciplined bowling of Chameera, who conceded 15 in his last two overs.
He also picked up the wicket of Hardik Pandya with a ball that had swing on offer, and needless to say Chameera is a player to watch out for.
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