India vs Sri Lanka: Playing with four debutants, visitors fall short as Dhananjaya helps level T20I series | Cricket News


Forced to field four debutants and only five batsmen in the XI due to a Covid case in their team, a depleted India went down to Sri Lanka by four wickets in a low-scoring but thrilling second T20 International at the Premadasa Stadium on Wednesday night.
The Lankans thus managed to level the T20I series with the final game of the series coming up on Thursday.
Chasing 133, Sri Lanka needed 20 in the final two overs, but a six off a Bhuvneshwar Kumar full toss by Chamika Karunaratne eased their nerves, leaving them with eight to get in the last over. With Dhananjaya de Silva (40 not out, 34b, 1×4, 1×6) anchoring the chase and Minod Bhanuka (36, 31b, 4×4) playing a useful hand earlier, the Lankans managed to scamper home.
Defending a small score with all their might and spirit on a slow, sluggish pitch, India’s bowlers did well, with Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav, who picked two wickets, being the best of the bunch and ‘mystery spinner’ Varun Chakravarthy too looking good. India got in-form Avishka Fernando (11) in the third over as Rahul Chahar caught him brilliantly at the fineleg boundary off Bhuvneshwar, palming the ball in, before grabbing it. Thereafter, the visitors took wickets at regular intervals, but had too few runs to play with.
Earlier, India struggled to force the pace on a pitch that offered turn to the spinners, trotting to 132 for five in 20 overs.
Skipper Shikhar Dhawan (40, 42b, 5×4) top-scored for the team, as all the three batsmen making their debuts — Ruturaj Gaikwad (21 off 18 balls), Devdutt Padikkal (29 off 3 balls) and Nitish Rana (9 off 12 balls) — failed to grab the opportunity, though Gaikwad and Padikkal did make impressive starts after the Lankans chose to bowl first after winning the toss .
Coach Rahul Dravid would be disappointed with another poor outing for Sanju Samson. Continuing his dismal run in international cricket, the ‘keeper-bat scratched around for 13 balls for seven, before an Akila Dananjaya delivery sneaked through his bat and pad and rolled onto the stumps after the batsman came down the wicket to meet it. With the ball spinning like a top at times, he looked like a cat on a hot tin roof. India went into the last five overs with eight wickets in hand, placed at 94 for two, but managed to collect just 38 runs in these overs, losing three wickets.
Exploiting help from the wicket, Sri Lanka’s spinners were on the ball, with Dananjaya (2-29 in four overs) being the pick of the lot. It was a superb comeback by him, after he went for 40 in three overs without taking a wicket in the previous game as India’s batsmen went after him.
In a unique instance, the hosts used as many as eight bowlers in the first nine overs, keeping the Indian batsmen guessing as to what was coming next at them.
Both Dhawan and Padikkal were bowled while trying to execute the slog-sweep, in order to break the shackles. Dhawan and Gaikwad gave India a good 49-run start in seven overs, before the latter topedged a pull off a short ball from Lankan skipper Dasun Shanaka to the ‘keeper.





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