The last two international fixtures at the picturesque Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) Stadium - against South Africa in 2019 and 2020 - had been washed out. With Dharamsala witnessing scattered spells of showers in the evening over the past few days, weather could play spoilsport once again on Saturday as India gears up to play against Sri Lanka in the second T20I.
As is the tradition, the HPCA officials have also invoked rain god Indrunag , praying for clear weather on match days.
After a convincing win in the first game in Lucknow on Thursday, India stands a chance of taking an unassailable lead in the 20-over series.
With the T20 World Cup lined up later this year, the Indian team management, under the watchful eyes of head coach Rahul Dravid and captain Rohit Sharma, aims to create a core unit. They have introduced quite a few tweaks in the batting department, defining clear roles to specific players. And thus far, the efforts have yielded results.
In the series opener, Ishan Kishan’s swashbuckling 89 guided the host to a win. His scratchy knocks against the West Indies seemed like a thing of the past as Ishan looked comfortable rotating the strike against the Lankans. His opening partnership with Rohit allowed India to dominate from the get- go. With both relying on their natural abilities, the stage was set for a high-scoring game.
With Virat Kohli rested for the series, Shreyas Iyer came in at No. 3 and made the most of the opportunity by slamming a half-century. Going forward, Iyer will be hoping to cement his spot in the team. And that’s why, the remaining two T20Is are as crucial for the Mumbai batter.
At the Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium, Ravindra Jadeja returned to action, with Rohit indicating a fit Jadeja will continue to bat higher up the order as the team is ‘very clear’ with what it wants to “achieve with him in white-ball cricket.” With a seasoned campaigner like Jadeja back in the scheme of things, it also provides an immense boost to the bowling department.
Despite having Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah in its ranks for the opening game, the Indian team opted for debutant Deepak Hooda and Venkatesh Iyer. And at the HPCA track, which usually aids seamers, a lot will depend on Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, had a dull outing in the opener and would require a fightback in a bid to stay afloat in the series. In the absence of key spinners Maheesh Theekshana and Wanindu Hasaranga, the visiting team failed to make an impact in the opener and ahead of the key clash, skipper Dasun Shanaka needs to ensure the players understand their duties and execute plans well against a superior opponent.
With limited fans allowed for the fixture, the cricket aficionados of the hilly town are looking forward to indulge in some action-packed cricket over the weekend, while hoping the weather does not disappoint.