So, Sri Lanka have taken the lead in the three match T20 series against India. That should spice things up!
Here are five talking points from India’s defeat in the first T20 in Pune:
- The Pitch
Grass. Bounce. Sideways movement. M.S. Dhoni said it was like playing in English conditions at the post match ceremony. The way the Indian batsman were hopping around in Pune, it looked more like they were playing in Perth! For a population that feeds on fours and sixes, the Pune crowd didn’t have much to cheer about. Have to say, though, it was a pleasant change from watching bowlers getting thumped to all corners.
- Sri Lankan surprises x 2
So I did say India were favourites to win. But I also said that Sri Lanka have a nasty habit of surprising India. They did so once again, ambushing India with Rajitha, a debutant who generated loads of pace and bounce and was rewarded with three wickets.
He was backed up by a Shanaka, who claimed three wickets. Shanaka, however, says that he is more of a batsman and his domestic record certainly backs this up! Suresh Raina wouldn’t agree with that assessment though after having his leg stump knocked out of the ground. Neither would MS Dhoni who was beaten for pace while trying to hook a bouncer.
- Indian batting
If this was a test of how Indian batting would cope without Virat Kohli at the top, it was one they definitely failed. The top order kept trying to smash the cover of the ball, possibly thinking they were still in Australia. Raina’s innings didn’t amount to much even though he was given a few lives. Yuvraj Singh had his helmet cracked open and gave his wicket away next ball. Dhoni and Pandya did not last long enough to steady the ship. Only Ashwin and Jadeja showed some measure of resistance. The way the innings ended (with Bumrah on his bum in the middle of the pitch) was symbolic of the chaos that reigned during India’s frantic innings. This was a classic case of misreading the pitch and aiming too high. A target of 120-130 on this track would have been competitive.
- Dhoni’s tactics
Nehra, who took 2 wickets, didn’t bowl his full quota. Neither did Pandya. Why?
Because in a game where the quicks did most of the damage, part timer Suresh Raina bowled two overs of off spin. Oh, and Ashwin (India’s number 1 spinner) didn’t finish his quota.
Sometimes you just want to get inside Dhoni’s head and see what’s going on there!
- Indian fielding
While Raina took a great catch towards the end of the game, a couple of chances were missed. Chandimal poked tentatively in the first over and Rahane had a difficult catch at slip burst through his fingers. Jadeja missed running Kapugedera out when the match was still in the balance. Might be a bit harsh, but if those half-chances had been taken, the game would have been much tighter. As it turned out, the opportunities were missed and Sri Lanka strolled to victory with a couple of overs to spare.