India and Sri Lanka locked horns at the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) Stadium in Pune for the second T20I of the three-match series. It looked like a one-sided affair when Sri Lanka dominated the first innings with the bat, and also the first half of the second innings with the ball, but Suryakumar Yadav and Axar Patel showcased great batting efforts to put up a tough fight. But in the end, the Islanders won the contest by 16 runs to level the series.
Winning the toss, Indian skipper Hardik Pandya elected to field first. The decision backfired for India in a certain way, as Arshdeep Singh gave away 19 runs in his very first over including three no-balls, and Sri Lankan batters gained the required momentum. Five bowlers tried their hand in the powerplay, but none succeeded in picking a wicket as Sri Lanka posted 55 runs in six overs.
Charith Asalanka and skipper Dasun Shanaka led Sri Lanka’s batting after the top-order batters walked off the field. The skipper posed a threat to the Indian bowlers in the death overs as Sri Lanka got to 206/6 at the end of the innings. India’s start to the chase was scary, as the Men in Blue lost four big wickets in the powerplay and Ishan Kishan, Shubman Gill, debutant Rahul Tripathi, and captain Hardik Pandya were dismissed cheaply.
Axar-Surya keep India’s chances alive
It was then the sixth wicket partnership between Axar Patel and Suryakumar Yadav, which resurrected India’s innings. The duo shared a 91-run partnership and punished the Sri Lankan bowlers, which helped India get back in the game. Even after Yadav’s dismissal, Shivam Mavi, who failed to impress with the ball this time around, played a wonderful cameo of a 15-ball 26 and hit a few big shots to take the game deep.
The game came down the wire when India required 21 runs to win in the final six deliveries. But Sri Lankan skipper Dasun Shanaka, who took charge of the ball to bowl his first over of the game, dismissed the in-form Axar Patel and put curtains on India’s run. As a result, the Islanders claimed a 16-run victory and leveled the three-match series 1-1.
Top Performers from the match:
Shanaka’s knock of a 22-ball 56 was the fastest T20I century by a Sri Lankan batter. The skipper led from the front and added the crucial runs on board, which led to the Islanders putting up a 207-run target against India and later defending it. He also dismissed the in-form Axar Patel in the final over, to put an end to India’s innings and defended 21 runs in the last over.
Though India ended on the losing side, all-rounder Axar Patel was at his best with the ball as well as with the bat. He picked up two wickets while giving away 24 runs in his four-over spell, and also went on to charge up India’s innings with the bat by hitting a 31-ball 65. His knock helped the Men in Blue keep their winning hopes alive, before eventually losing the game.
What’s next for both teams?
India and Sri Lanka will face each other next in the third and final T20I of the series at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot on Saturday, January 7, 2023.