India, Sri Lanka to clash in T20 series decider on Sunday
Vishakapatnam: Having won their last game, hosts India would look to seal their second T20 series on the trot as they take on Sri Lanka in the final game here on Sunday.
India came back from an embarrassing defeat in Pune to convincingly beat the visitors by 69 runs in Ranchi to level the series.
In the first T20 after the 3-0 win in Australia, India went in as the favourites, but they struggled to cope with the pace and bounce of the strip, which Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni referred to as an “English wicket”.
Pacers Kasun Rajitha and Dasun Shanaka tore through the Indian batting line up and bowled them out for a paltry total of 101 runs.
Sri Lanka had little hiccups in their chase too, as veteran fast bowler Ashish Nehra and Ravichandran Ashwin kept chipping at the wickets but the islanders managed to get over the line with five wickets and two overs to spare.
Two days later, the battle ground shifted to Ranchi and this time and Indian batters, who had failed miserably in the first game, ensured they give it back to the Sri Lankan bowlers.
And tonk they did, as the openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma put on a partnership of 75 runs in seven overs.
Dhawan was the aggressor as he blasted his way to a 25-ball 51.
The likes of Ajinkya Rahane, who is getting to bat at no.3 in the absence of Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina all contributed with the bat and then Dhoni played his card right by sending newcomer Hardik Pandya to come ahead of Yuvraj Singh and himself.
Pandya helped India get closer to the total of 196/6 hitting 27runs of just 12 balls. In the field too, Dhoni’s tricks did not backfire. He opened the bowling with tweaker Ravichandran Ashwin and held back Jasprit Bumrah till the 16th over.
The plans worked and Sri Lanka failed to even get closer to the target. The Indian skipper also had a good day behind the wicket effecting two crucial stumpings.
Come Sunday, the only cause of concern for the hosta will be Rahane’s form. Dhoni might just think of having Manish Pandey but then again will he disturb a winning combination?
The Indian bowlers have bowled well in both the outings and maybe they will stick to the ploy of opening with Ashwin.
Sri Lanka would ideally want a repeat of the Pune game, but the wicket here will be anything but green, so they might have to bat out of their skins if they are going to clinch the decider.
The contest promises to be an engaging one as both sides would want to end it on a winning note and then go into the Asia Cup T20 and World T20 high on confidence.