India defeated Sri Lanka by 78 runs in 3rd T20I in Pune on Friday to win the T20I series 2-1.
After losing the toss, India skipper Virat Kohli spoke about the need to do well after batting first. The reason was India's dismal record while defending. From the start of 2019 till before this match, India had won just three and lost five while bowling second. On Friday however, that wasn't the case as India rode early strikes by Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur and Navdeep Saini to record a comprehensive 78-run win over Sri Lanka and clinch the three-match T20I series 2-0.
Chasing a target of 202, Sri Lanka's chase was effectively over in the Powerplay after being reduced to 31/4. Their demise started in the very first over when left-hander Danushka Gunathilaka (1) attempted a pull off a Bumrah short delivery, the ball landing safely in the hands of Washington Sundar at mid-on. His opening partner Avishka Fernando (9) perished in the next over, hitting straight at Shreyas Iyer standing at covers off the bowling of Thakur. Oshada Fernando (2) was run out in the fourth over following a mix up while Kusal Perera (7) couldn't keep out a peach of a yorker from the ever-improving Saini.
A 68-run stand for the fifth wicket between Angelo Mathews (31) and Dhananjaya de Silva (57) briefly raised Sri Lanka hopes as batting became relatively easier with dew and spinners finding it difficult to grip the ball. But Mathews got carried away after hitting Sundar for a six off the first ball of 12th over, holing out at mid-on a ball later. That ended any hope Sri Lanka had harboured of mounting a dramatic comeback. The batsmen who followed didn't put up much of a fight as their innings was folded in 15.5 overs.
Saini was India's most successful bowler with figures of three for 28 while Sundar and Thakur took two wickets each. Earlier, the duel between Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul to be Rohit Sharma's opening partner continued with both matching each other shot for shot. Dhawan got a reprieve in the second over and then just took off, looking much more assertive than he was in the Indore game. He matched Rahul's drives and punches with his own array of flicks and pulls. They stitched a 97-run partnership for the opening wicket, providing the launchpad for India to post a huge total.
Dhawan holed out at mid-wicket soon after reaching his half-century. The 36-ball 52 knock was laced with seven boundaries and one six and couldn't have come at a better time for Dhawan, who is returning from an injury. India were experimental during batting, giving opportunities to players who haven't got a decent hit in the middle but the wheels came of their innings as they lost four-wicket in space of 13 balls to be reduced to 122/4.
Sanju Samson, playing his first match since 2015, walked in at No 3 and hit his first ball for six and then perished, failing to read a wrong one from leg-spinner Wanidu Hasaranga. Rahul, who scored a 36-ball 54, was back in the pavilion in the next over after he was outfoxed by a left-arm chinaman Lakshan Sandakan's wrong one and got stumped while. In the same over Shreyas Iyer was caught and bowled. One thing India managed to do however kept the scoreboard ticking and maintain their run rate above nine for the most of the match.
Useful contributions by Manish Pandey (31), Virat Kohli (26), who batted at No 6, and a late burst by Shardul Thakur (eight-ball 22) saw India cross the 200 run mark. With the T20 World Cup scheduled in October, Kohli will hope that, like Friday, the team will continue to do well when put into bat and get accustomed to the challenge of defending.