Deepak Hooda and Axar Patel came together to raise a quick-fire unbeaten half-century partnership in fine rearguard action as India managed to reach 162/5 in 20 overs against Sri Lanka in the first T20I of the three-match series at the Wankhede Stadium, here on Tuesday.
After the Sri Lanka skipper Dasun Shanaka won the toss and elected to field, his bowlers justified his decision as they struck at regular intervals, making full use of the pitch that played a bit slow but was still good for batting.
India looked in deep trouble with half the side inside the dugout with 94 runs on the board but Hooda and Patel came together and raised 68 runs for the unfinished 6th wicket partnership to help India to a decent score.
Hooda hammered 41 not out off 23 deliveries, hitting one boundary and four sixes while Patel struck 31 not out off 20 balls (three fours and one six) as India recovered from a precarious 94/5 in the 15th over. Their sensible batting took India to a decent total and they can defend it if the bowlers manage to strike some early blows and put the Sri Lankans in early trouble.
The match started in whirlwind fashion as Ishan Kishan blasted 17 runs off the first over bowled by Kasun Rajitha, hitting the right-arm medium pacer for six and two fours as the bowler struggled for direction, even bowling a wide delivery.
But playing on a wicket that was not true, the Indians were soon in trouble as Shubman Gill, who made his debut with Shivam Mavi, did not survive for long. Gill, the India red-ball opener, who was given a chance in the absence of skipper Rohit Sharma, started with a four off Dilshan Madushanka but fell for seven runs, foxed by off-spinner Maheesh Theekshana as India slumped to 27/1 in the third over, Gill failing to overturn a decision on review.
Sri Lanka skipper Dasun Shanaka threw the ball to Theekshana after Rajitha was hammered in the first over and the spinner struck off his third delivery as he out-thought Gill, who picked up the carrom ball but was beaten by pace and trapped in front of the wicket. The opener reviewed the decision as the ball seemed to have hit him high on the pads but the third umpire went with the field umpire as the tracker showed the ball would have hit the stumps.
Suryakumar Yadav -- who was sensational in 2022, getting high praise for his 360-degree batting, failed to fire as he too got out early, caught by Bhanuka Rajapaksa off Chamika Karunaratne for 7, unable to execute his shot due to lack of pace.
Sanju Samson (5) did not last long, going for a six off Dhananjaya de Silva but hitting with the toe-end of his bat and was caught by Madushanka as India slumped to 46/3 in the seventh over.
Ishan Kishan (37, 29 b, 3x4, 2x6) and skipper Hardik Pandya (29, 27b, 4x4) added 31 runs for the fourth wicket but once both of them departed in quick succession, India were down to 94/6 in 15th over and looking down the barrel. Hooda and Patel then came together to give them a fighting total.
India: 162/5 in 20 overs (Deepak Hooda 41 not out, Axar Patel 31 not out, Ishan Kishan 37, Hardik Pandya 29; Chamika Karunaratne1-22, Maheesh Theekshana 1-29) vs India.