The Indians started out the T20I series against Sri Lanka as clear favourites and did not disappoint as they wrapped it up 2-1 in Visakhapatnam yesterday. After the shocking defeat in Pune where the Indian batting had a rare failure, India showed character and resilience to fight back in the series.Though this was a weak Sri Lankan side, there were a lot of positives for the Indian team from this series going into the Asia Cup and the ICC World T20. India will be heartened by their powerful display and try to take the positives into the more important upcoming tournaments.Here are 5 reasons why India won the T20I series against Sri Lanka.
#1 Inexperienced Sri Lankan batting
To be honest, no one gave the Sri Lankans the ghost of a chance as they embarked on this short tour to India. India had found some form of late and was coming back home on the back of a successful 3-0 routing of the Aussies in the T20I series Down Under.
High on confidence, India even chose to rest their most in-form player, Virat Kohli, for this series. Sri Lanka on the other hand, were coming in with a young and inexperienced squad heavily dependent on the likes of Chandimal and Dilshan.
Many were surprised by their gutsy performance in the first T20 but eventually, it was their lack of experience that cost them the series.
In the 3rd T20I for instance, against an Ashwin bowling with his tail up, the Sri Lankan batsmen went for too many reckless shots and lost their wickets in the process. A little more application while batting would have done them no harm.
#2 Indian spinners
After being inexplicably dropped for a few matches in Australia, Ravichandran Ashwin has come back with a bang, doing what he does best -- ripping through the opposition. So dominant has been his bowling that even in the T20 format, batsmen have been trying to play him out at best.
On a green track in Pune, his spell of 3-0-13-2 made sure that India did not go down without a fight. It was his surreal spell of 4-8 in the 3rd T20I that downed Sri Lanka even when before they had a chance.
And not just Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja has been in good form as well, making the duo dangerous whenever they bowl in tandem. Part-timers like Raina and Yuvraj Singh also chipped in to good effect.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, no longer have the likes of Muralitharan or even Herath to fall back upon. It was the difference in the quality of the two spin attacks that made a decisive difference in the end.
#3 The depth of Indian batting
Critics, pundits and the Indian team management will be happy to see that the Indian batting is finally beginning to come together. Apart from the 1st T20I in the series which can be dismissed as a minor aberration, the Indian batsmen of late have been in scintillating form.
India owes its success in the series Down Under to the batting masterclass by Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. Even when Kohli was rested and Sharma failed to be his usual self in this series, India had no problem piling on the runs, demonstrating how strong they are now as a batting outfit.
The middle order comprising Rahane and Raina have has contributed well in this series. In Hardik Pandya, India have found just found the seaming all-rounder they were looking for. And Shikhar Dhawan, India's biggest worry of late, has been amongst the runs in this series.
Dhawan has in fact made a huge impact in this series. In the 2nd T20I, it was Dhawan who got India off to a flier as he raced to 51 off 25 balls. In the 3rd T20I, he played a matured knock of a run-a-ball 46 to guide India to victory. The Indian batting was way too strong for Sri Lanka to contend with in this series.
#4 Jasprit Bumrah
Since the days of yore, India have unsuccessfully looked for a pacer who could be a death-over specialist. But since Zaheer Khan faded away, the search has mostly been a futile one. All of a sudden, India seem to have found an unlikely hero in Jaspreet Bumrah.
Bumrah first caught the attention of the cricketing world due to his good spells in Australia. In this series against Sri Lanka, he continued the good work as batsmen struggled to score off him freely.
Bumrah was not used by Dhoni primarily as a wicket-taking option but as a specialist death bowler in the series. Dhoni has started holding Bumrah back till the slog overs, a ploy that he might well go on to use in the Asia Cup and the ICC World T20 this year.
Bumrah's figures look unreal in the series because he has miserly while giving away runs. In the 1st T20I, he gave away only 19 runs off his 4 overs while in the second match, he gave away 17 runs in his 3 overs while also picking up 2 wickets. In the 3rd T0I, his figures of 3-0-10-1 read even better.
Because of his slingy action combined with the fast yorkers and a well-disguised slower ball, Bumrah has been very effective of late. He is even being called as the 'Indian Malinga' by some quarters.
#5 Home advantage
Like it or not, home advantage has come to be a deciding factor in cricket. It has become increasingly difficult for even strong teams to upstage weaker opponents when they are playing away from home. This makes India's T20I series win against Australia prior to this even more special.
No one gave Sri Lanka much of a chance in this series, because, with their lack of experience, it was always going to be extremely difficult to lock horns with India in the latter's home turf.
India predictably struggled in Pune where the conditions were somewhat alien to them -- on a green top-- as the Sri Lankan seamers surprised the Indian batsmen.
But the pitches for the other two T20Is were turners where the Indian spinners made merry. India further showed the benefit of playing at home by reading the conditions accurately in the 3rd T20I at Visakhapatnam.
When everyone predicted a flat batting deck, India decided to bowl first to help their spinners. This was a good decision as a little bit of dew came in later.