India vs Sri Lanka 2017, 1st T20I: Yuzvendra Chahal's magical spell is SK Turning Point of the match
After clinching the Tests and ODI series by 1-0 and 2-1 margins respectively, India entered the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack with the aim of beginning the T20I series on a promising note. The hosts continued their relentless form by notching a massive 93-run victory over a hapless Sri Lankan unit.
While KL Rahul's half-century as well as cameos from MS Dhoni and Manish Pandey were instrumental in propelling India to a formidable total of 180, the clincher came in the form of a magical spell from Yuzvendra Chahal. Despite having to counter a copious amount of dew, the leg-spinner registered figures of 4/23 to completely wreck Sri Lanka's run-chase.
Let us take a look at how Chahal's sizzling spell helped India saunter to a clinical triumph and take a 1-0 lead in the 3-match T20I series.
Unadkat delivers early breakthrough
Facing a required run-rate of nine per over, Sri Lanka needed a strong start from their opening duo of Niroshan Dickwella and Upul Tharanga. The wicket-keeper batsman, in particular, was crucial as his style of play suited the shortest format of the game.
However, the visitors were thwarted early when Jaydev Unadkat induced a mistimed shot from Dickwella. The pugnacious southpaw could not come to terms with the left-arm seamer's clever change in pace.
Chahal weaves his magic
Following the fall of Dickwella, Tharanga joined hands with Kusal Janith Perera to steady the ship. Indian skipper Rohit Sharma sensed the occasion and did not hesitate to introduce spin as early as in the fifth over of the innings.
Chahal was introduced into the attack ahead of his spin partner Kuldeep Yadav. Tharanga appeared at ease when dealing with the 27-year old. The experienced left-hander hammered a four and a six off successive balls to unsettle his opponent. But a misguided attempt at a sweep shot only resulted in providing the leg-spinner with his first scalp in the game. Dhoni showed his innate awareness by getting into the right position at the precise time.
After changing ends, Chahal struck again in his second over. With the pressure creeping up to stifling levels, Angelo Mathews offered a straightforward return catch to a nicely tossed-up delivery. Now in the midst of a rhythmic spell, the leg-spinner accounted for Asela Gunaratne through a touch of serendipity from Dhoni. But the delivery to outclass the batsman around his legs offered a befitting glimpse into the bowler's skills.
Having lost half their side just past the half-way mark, Sri Lanka needed something special from their skipper to turn the tide. However, Chahal lured Thisara Perera out of his crease before deceiving him with a well-disguised googly. Dhoni effected another stumping to aggravate the visitors' woes.
Sri Lanka surrender meekly
At 62/6, the writing was on the wall for Sri Lanka. Kusal Perera's painstaking stay at the crease finally came to an end when Kuldeep procured a soft edge from an ungainly swipe across the line.
All-rounder Hardik Pandya brought a swift end to the proceedings by razing the lower-order. The right-arm seamer dismissed the likes of Akila Dananjaya, Dushmantha Chameera and debutant Vishwa Fernando to hasten Sri Lanka's downfall.
India completed an emphatic victory to surge to a position of strength in the T20I series. Even though the batsmen had fired in unison to put a significant amount of runs on the board, Chahal was deservedly named the 'Player of the Match' for his four-wicket spell. After all, the leg-spinner from Haryana had put on a masterclass in bowling beautifully with a wet ball.