There’s no stopping Shreyas Iyer. After hammering back-to-back half-centuries in the first two T20Is against Sri Lanka, the 27-year-old remained unbeaten on 73 off 45 deliveries in the third T20I as well as India completed a series sweep over the touring side with a six-wicket win.
Chasing 146 at the HPCA Stadium on Sunday, India captain Rohit Sharma opened the innings with Sanju Samson as Ishan Kishan was ruled out of the fixture after being hit on the helmet in the previous game. But Rohit (5,9b; 1x4) was sent packing by Dushmantha Chameera - for the sixth time in T20Is. The Sri Lankan fast bowler's length delivery outside off, lured Rohit into miscuing a pull to Chamika Karunaratne at mid-off.
With the captain back in the dugout, the onus was once again on Iyer to forge a partnership and he aimed to do so with Sanju. They added 45 runs for the second wicket, helping India cross the 50-run mark inside seven overs. A fullish delivery by Karunaratne saw Sanju nicking it behind to Dinesh Chandimal.
Iyer held the fort at the other end, while Deepak Hooda (12,16b) hit a four and six, to make sure there was no slip-up. However, a cracking yorker by Lahiru Kumara rattled Hooda’s stumps. A couple of overs later, Venkatesh Iyer too perished cheaply, offering a catch to substitute Praveen Jayawickrama off Kumara.
With India a bit under pressure, Ravindra Jadeja walked in and backed Iyer once again to stitch together a 45-run stand to pave the way for India’s victory. In his 15-ball-22 knock, Jadeja hit three fours.
Earlier, India’s decision to rest Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Yuzvendra Chahal did not have much of an impact as Mohammed Siraj, Avesh Khan and Ravi Bishnoi restricted the touring side to 146-5. While Khan grabbed a couple of wickets (2-23), Siraj and Bishnoi scalped one apiece.
Sri Lanka’s move to bat first backfired with none of the top-order batters stepping up. In the last delivery of the first over, Siraj cleaned up Danushka Gunathilaka for a duck. In the next over, Khan sent Pathum Nissanka packing for a solitary run.
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Losing two quick wickets, Sri Lanka needed to regroup, but they lacked intent. Khan struck again in the fourth over, dismissing Charith Asalanka for four. Struggling at 14-3 in five overs, Janith Liyanage (9, 19b) and Dinesh Chandimal (25, 27b; 2x4) did try to rebuild, but Liyanage’s stay at the crease was cut short by Ravi Bishnoi. The seasoned Chandimal then forged a 31-run stand with captain Dasun Shanaka (74 not out, 38b; 9x4, 2x6) before offering a sitter to Venkatesh Iyer at backward point off Harshal Patel.
Reeling at 60-5, not many expected Sri Lanka to bounce back, but Shanaka and Karunaratne (12 not out, 19b) stitched an 86-run partnership for the sixth wicket.
However, with Iyer staying firm, India chased down the total and equaled the record for most consecutive T20I wins, with 12 victories.
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