With the series in India’s grasp, Sri Lanka would need something magical to turn things around to avoid a clean-sweep come July 23.
That was some exhilarating action, wasn’t it? The second ODI had plenty in it: tons of twists and turns, both impressive and disappointing tactics (depending on which team you were rooting for), effective spin bowling, nerves and a majestic lower-order rearguard as India snatched the victory from the jaws of defeat.
Tuesday’s fixture was remarkably similar to the series-opener in parts. However, the overall script unfolded far more different than it did in the first when India simply bulldozed Sri Lanka with their top-order might. On Tuesday, the hosts managed to put up a fight they must be proud of, but they had too many holes to fill as they eventually conceded a game that certainly seemed theirs to lose for quite a long while during India’s response.
The 77-run opening stand between Avishka Fernando and Minod Bhanuka is the kind that if capitalized rightly takes teams to totals much better than what Sri Lanka managed. Their 275 was at best par. But against teams like India, one would want to be a good yard or two ahead of that for a par total can only throw some challenges, not win the opposition games. Not against India. And for the second time in a row, the hosts wasted their good start, losing wickets quickly enough to wipe out the momentum they built so nicely.
Twice in two games has Sri Lanka also relied on the acceleration towards the fag end to give their innings some impetus. On Tuesday, however, there was an evident alteration in tactics: the openers played with much more freedom and showed intent to a great degree when compared to a somewhat obsolete, mundane approach they went ahead with in the first game.
However, what separated them from posting a winning total was – once again – a misfiring middle-order, where barring Chartith Asalanka’s half-century, there was nothing to note. Despite all the misses, Sri Lanka would regret that they could not end up on the right side. After all, they had India 116/5 and later 193/7 in a 276-chase. However, some tactical bluntness from Sri Lanka mixed with India’s lion-hearted attitude meant that it was not to be.
“We’re a young team. We haven’t won much recently, and we’re trying to do our best to play together for our country. Everyone tried hard and took it to the final over, but unfortunately, we couldn’t win,” said Asalanka post-match. For a team enduring loads of off-field tumult, coming so agonizingly close only to end the way Sri Lanka ended must hurt. (Ask Mickey Arthur, maybe?)
As for India, they showed it is never over until it truly is and that is what great teams do: never give up. If India’s top-order bellicosity left Sri Lanka gasping for breath in the previous game, a seriously inspired, unexpected hero in Deepak Chahar volunteered to deliver the goods the second time when each amongst Prithvi Shaw, Ishan Kishan and Shikhar Dhawan failed.
Meanwhile, as Dhawan failed to repeat his performance with the bat, what he did not fail in was being astute as a leader. Introducing pacers in the middle overs being a case in point. India in the subcontinent, more often than not, sticks with spinners in the middle-overs. Sandwiching spin between pace does make sense given overs 11-40 have lesser action when compared with powerplay or death overs.
However, Dhawan’s ploy to give Bhuvneshwar and Chahar their second spell in the middle-overs rewarded India with the wickets of Avishka Fernando and Dhanajaya de Silva in quick succession. Had the former continued a bit longer, who knows if Sri Lanka would have gotten a few runs that they found themselves short in hindsight?
Before the start of the series, there was plenty of rumpus around how the Indian team sans their regular superstars is a second-string unit. Well, they established they might technically be second-string, but still have all it takes to live up to India’s staggering white-ball reputation. With the series in India’s grasp, Sri Lanka would need something magical to turn things around to avoid a clean-sweep come July 23.
Pitch and conditions
The track in the second game played slightly better for the batters. Expect another balanced track for the final encounter. Despite rain being forecast on the previous two fixtures, there has not been a single interruption thus far.
Playing combination for SL vs IND
Sri Lanka swapped Kasun Rajitha with Isuru Udana after he leaked 27 from a two-over spell in the first game. While changing the current combination looks unlikely, the team might want to try Pathum Nissanka to hold their crumbly middle-order.
Predicted XI: Avishka Fernando, Minod Bhanuka (WK), Bhanuka Rajapaksha, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dasun Shanaka (C), Chamika Karunaratne, Wanindu Hasaranga, Kasun Rajitha, Lakshan Sandakan, Dushmantha Chameera,
Unlikely to change unless the management decides to give any of the uncapped talents some international exposure. Should they so decide, Varun Chakravarthy might get a look-in.
Predicted XI: Shikhar Dhawan (C), Prithvi Shaw, Ishan Kishan (WK), Suryakumar Yadav, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Deepak Chahar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal
SL vs IND Head-to-Head
Played – 161 | Sri Lanka – 56 | India – 93 | N/R – 11 | Tied- 1
In Sri Lanka
Played – 63 | Sri Lanka – 27 | India – 30 | N/R – 6
Match – Sri Lanka vs India 2nd ODI
Venue – R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo
Time – 03:00 PM IST, 09:30 AM GMT
Telecast – Sony Sports Network, Sony LIV