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India vs Sri Lanka 2020: Confident hosts target series victory against Islanders  

Aryan Surana
Modified 09 Jan 2020, 20:04 IST

The cricketing bandwagon rolls to Pune for the final T20I
The cricketing bandwagon rolls to Pune for the final T20I

Indore's zestful crowd had expected an entertaining run-fest given Holkar's docile track, but Sri Lanka's miserable display batting first proved otherwise. India hardly broke a sweat while chasing down the paltry 143 and registered an emphatic seven-wicket triumph with 15 balls to spare. Though fans returned home elated over India's dominating victory, the contest's lopsided nature didn't please many.

The Islanders lack maturity, consistency, and attitude. Openers Avishka Fernando and Danushka Gunathilaka conceded momentum early by squandering headstarts. Kusal Perera flattered only to deceive, exposing the vulnerable lower-middle order as tearaway Navdeep Saini wreaked havoc. Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Oshada Fernando couldn't provide the late flourish despite trying hard, leaving Sri Lanka with an exiguous target to defend.

Moreover, Sri Lanka's team selection raised eyebrows. Benching experienced campaigners Angelo Mathews and Kusal Mendis wasn't the smartest decision anyway. Now, since Isuru Udana is unfortunately injured, all-rounder Mathews or Kasun Rajitha potentially fill the vacant slot.

Anchoring the Indian response, KL Rahul produced yet another sublime knock to rubberstamp his white-ball credentials. However, Shikhar Dhawan, eyeing resurgence, looked uncharacteristically sluggish at the crease before perishing to Wanindu Hasaranga. Considering the relentless exertion from the youngster, Pune's joust is certainly Dhawan's last opportunity to prove his mettle before the imminent axing transpires.

Navdeep Saini trains ahead of Pune T20I
Navdeep Saini trains ahead of Pune T20I

Saini's encouraging development revitalizes India's pace resources. Besides frequently unleashing 150kmph thunderbolts, he outsmarted pinch-hitters with deceptive variations. Although veteran Jasprit Bumrah endured a mediocre return, Shardul Thakur, Washington Sundar, and Kuldeep Yadav complemented each other wonderfully and executed a spirited bowling performance to demolish the neighbours.

Can Sri Lanka retaliate and equalize the series, or will the hosts reign supreme once more?

Match details

India v Sri Lanka, 3rd T20I

Date and time: January 10, 7:00 PM local


Venue: Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune

What to expect: Pune's sporting track guarantees an entertaining clash. The wicket's decent greenish tinge means seamers can extract purchase with the new ball. Thankfully, the chances of rain playing spoilsport are extremely minuscule.

Probable XIs

India: Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Shivam Dube, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar. Shardul Thakur/Navdeep Saini, Jasprit Bumrah.

Sri Lanka: Danushka Gunathilaka, Avishka Fernando, Kusal Perera (wk), Angelo Mathews/ Kusal Mendis, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Dasun Shanaka, Dhananjaya De Silva, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lahiru Kumara, Lasith Malinga (C), Kasun Rajitha/Lakshan Sandakan.

What they said

"For us, as coaching staff and players we have got some serious work to do in terms of game-plan, match awareness and playing the big moments. I think we had 49 dot balls tonight, which is too many, as the best teams in the world [would] have 25 dot balls. That is something we need to keep working on," reflected Mickey Arthur in the post-match press conference at Indore.

"This was a clinical performance, and that's how we want to build on each series. We have ticked a few more boxes this time. Brilliant from Navdeep. He has done well in ODI cricket, and he's bowling well in T20s", skipper Virat Kohli applauded India's latest pace sensation.

Published 09 Jan 2020, 20:04 IST
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