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India’s selection conundrum, SL’s comeback: Talking points from the Ind vs SL 2nd T20I

The second T20 International between India and Sri Lanka on Tuesday was postponed by a day after all-rounder Krunal Pandya tested positive for COVID-19. Eight others who came in contact with Krunal have also been isolated despite testing negative and did not take to the field for the second T20I. Prithvi Shaw, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav and the Pandya brothers did not play the game, thus giving four players a chance to make their debut – Nitish Rana, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Devdutt Padikkal and Chetan Sakariya. India fielded five batsmen and six bowlers for the second T20I and the lack in their batting depth due to absence of four batsmen restricted them to a total of 132 in 20 overs on a slow pitch. Dhawan top-scored with 40, while Gaikwad and Padikkal contributed with 21 and 29 runs. However, a great fight from the visiting bowlers ensured that Sri Lanka chase went down to the wire. The hosts eventually won with two balls remaining and levelled the three-match series 1-1.  Let’s breeze through the five talking points from the game. 

Four debutants for India 

Since Prithvi Shaw, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav and the Pandya brothers sat out of this game, the management handed a debut to four players – Nitish Rana, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Devdutt Padikkal and Chetan Sakariya. Rana, who scored seven runs on his ODI debut last week, replicated his poor start on his T20I debut, scoring just nine runs off 12 balls. Gaikwad, for whom this was the first international match in any format, opened the batting with Dhawan. The Maharashtra batsman could not convert his start into a long innings, succumbing on 21 runs after facing 18 balls. For Sakariya, his first T20I international saw him dismiss Ramesh Mendis, but his economy of 9.27 runs per over was the most expensive among the visiting bowlers. Padikkal, who scored 29 off 23 balls, would have hoped to stay in the middle for longer. 

The variety in Sri Lanka’s bowling department 

On a slow Premadasa pitch, the Sri Lankan bowlers put up a much improved performance from what we saw in the ODIs and in the first T20I. But not just that, eight different bowlers had a chance to bowl in this game – Dushmantha Chameera, Akila Dhananjaya, Isuru Udana, Chamika Karunaratne, Wanindu Hasaranga, Ramesh Mendis, Dasun Shanaka and Dhananjaya de Silva. Dananjaya bowled four overs and bagged two big wickets of Shikhar Dhawan and Sanju Samson. Wanindu Hasaranga, Dushmantha Chameera and Dasun Shanaka contributed with one wicket each. The frequent bowling changes meant India scored only 54 runs in their first nine overs.

Kuldeep Yadav’s return to form

The chinaman bowler has made the most of the slow track at the R Premedasa Stadium to revive his international career. The wrist spinner picked up two wickets in the first T20I – of Minod Bhanuka and Dasun Shanaka and his confidence seems to be building up. After taking two wickets in the second ODI, Kuldeep had admitted to being nervous about playing international cricket after a long while. In his post-match conference he had said, “Pressure and nervousness is always there when you play, and I was playing after a long time. Rahul Dravid sir backed me a lot and motivated me. We spoke a lot, and he told me that I should just enjoy bowling and not be tensed about the result. I’m very happy that my performance was good. You’re definitely nervous if you play cricket after so long, and you want to perform well.”

Varun Chakravarthy – a bright prospect 

After failing fitness tests and closely missing out on an India debut twice in the last few months – against Australia and England – Chakravarthy finally made his international debut in the first T20I against Sri Lanka. The spinner got one wicket in his four overs, while conceding 28 runs. He improved the performance in the second T20I, picking up a wicket and conceding only 18 runs in four overs. With quite a few bowling variations, Chakravarthy could be among the considerations for the approaching T20 World Cup. 

“He can bowl with the new ball, he can come and take wickets whenever the captain and the team wants to break a partnership – that means he’s got an X-factor,” VVS Laxman said on Star Sports’ show Game Plan about Chakravarthy. 

Dhananjaya de Silva and Chamika Karunaratne seal the win

At one point in the game it appeared like India would defend their paltry total. Sri Lanka needed 28 runs off the last three overs and an unbeaten 28-run seventh wicket partnership between De Silva and Karunaratne took them home with two balls remaining. De Silva hit an unbeaten 40 while Karunaratne chipped in with 12 runs, which were crucial in the context of the game. The hosts eventually required eight runs off the last over, which they managed in four balls. This is also Sri Lanka’s first T20 victory in six matches. 

The two teams will now face off in the third and final T20I tomorrow in Colombo. The Indian players who missed out on the second T20I will not play the third game too, and the playing XI is likely to be the same.

Umaima Saeed
A writer who primarily writes on cricket. As of 2021, she has covered cricket for more than a dozen publications.

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