Saini, Rahul star in India's crushing win over Sri Lanka

Faced with a sub-par 143-run target, India rode on handy contributions from Rahul, Dhawan and Iyer to get the job done with 15 balls to spare.

Published : Jan 07, 2020 22:53 IST , INDORE

India pacer Saini rattles the stumps of Gunathilaka.
India pacer Saini rattles the stumps of Gunathilaka.

India pacer Saini rattles the stumps of Gunathilaka.

India made short work of the insipid Sri Lankans, cruising to a seven-wicket victory in the second T20I at Holkar Stadium here on Tuesday.

Faced with a sub-par 143-run target, India rode on handy contributions from K.L. Rahul (45, 32b), Shikhar Dhawan (32, 29b) and Shreyas Iyer (34, 26b) to get the job done with 15 balls to spare.

Rahul (45, 32b) was especially good with the drive, dispatching Lahiru Kumara and Lasith Malinga with a straight bat. A wild slog to spinner Wanindu Hasaranga, however, ended his stay.

His partner Dhawan, who is fighting to keep his place in the side, was more sedate in his approach. He was not quite fluent, but stuck around long enough to make a mark. The Delhi southpaw moved to 32, before Hasaranga trapped him leg-before on a review.

When the television umpire declared Dhawan out, the crowd cheered, as the main attraction Virat Kohli walked in. Kohli had an easy task ahead of him, with India needing 57 runs from 52 balls. The skipper patiently went about his business, picking up the singles and twos.

Shreyas provided some fireworks, tonking Hasranga for two fours and a six in the 16th over. A 51-run third-wicket stand between Shreyas and Kohli (30 n.o., 17b) gave the visitor no way back.

Sri Lanka was hampered by an injury to left-arm speedster Isuru Udana, who landed awkwardly on his knee while fielding. Udana, the leader of the attack, was forced to walk off the field and did not bowl in the chase.

Rahul was especially good with the drive during his knock of 45. Photo: VIVEK BENDRE

After winning the toss, India did well to restrict Sri Lanka to a small score. The Sri Lankan batsmen fired in spurts, but failed to get a big one. Opener Avishka Fernando started impressively, striking a couple of perfect cover drives.

Fernando fell in spinner Washington Sundar’s first over - a mishit falling in the safe hands of Navdeep Saini at mid-off. Fernando’s partner Danushka Gunathilaka looked unsettled during his 21-ball stay, before Saini crashed into the stumps with a yorker.

The visitor depended heavily on Kushal Perera, who came to the crease at 54 for two. Perera received an early reprieve, when Shreyas Iyer picked the wrong end to attempt a run-out.

Perera then got going with a mighty slog-sweep six off Sundar, and not long after, executed a shot of great ingenuity. A reverse-sweep to a length ball outside off from Kuldeep sailed into the stands, evoking appreciation from even the partisan home crowd. Kuldeep had the last laugh, however, removing Perera off the very next delivery. The batsman could not get to the pitch of the ball, yet went through with an airy stroke. Shikhar Dhawan tip-toed inside the long-off fence to take a good catch.

From here, Sri Lanka crumbled in quick time. Bumrah took his first and only wicket with a clever slower ball, while Shardul Thakur recorded three scalps in one over.

Bumrah, playing his first match in four months, was not quite at his best. He started proceedings with a wide down leg, and continued to struggle to find the sweet spot. The Gujarat fast bowler was most disappointing in the 20th over, handing overpitched gimmes to six-drop Hasaranga.

While Bumrah eased his way back into international cricket, Saini hit the straps. He bowled at great pace, consistently hitting the 145-kmph mark. Saini finished with two for 18 in four overs, effectively applying the breaks on the Sri Lankan scoring rate.

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