When India announced their side for the three-match T20I series against Sri Lanka, their seam bowling looked meager in terms of experience. Arshdeep Singh, who made his international debut less than six months ago, was the leader of the pack, which had Umran Malik and two uncovered bowlers in Shivam Mavi and Mukesh Kumar.
Then, on the day of the first T20I, Arshdeep was unavailable as he did not fully recover from a viral illness. But Mavi and Malik came forward to help India defend 162. Mavi did not shy away from combining his seam deliveries with slower deliveries. He struck twice in the power play, finishing with 4 for 22 numbers. According to ESPNcricinfo’s Smart Stats, he was easily the game’s MVP.
Given his fast pace and lack of accuracy, Malik can be expensive at times. But in the first T20I he bowled hard lengths to take 2 for 27 from his four overs. One such overs was at death where he tipped the game towards India with Dasun Shanaka’s wicket.
The duo’s performances saw the hosts take a 1–0 lead, despite errors in batting and fielding. At one point, it looked like they would struggle to reach even 150 after being reduced to 94 for 5 in the 15th over. While defending, Sanju Samson dropped a catch, and their fielding on the ground also proved to be too much. leave wishes.
Sri Lanka, meanwhile, has lost their previous 11 completed T20Is against India in India. But they will take confidence from the fact that their spinners, Wanindu Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana, outsmarted their Indian counterparts, Yuzvendra Chahal and Axar Patel in the first game. That helped them narrow India down to a below-par total at the traditionally high-scoring Wankhede. And despite their top order failure, Shanaka and Chamika Karunaratne put them within one shot of victory.
Coincidentally, their last win against India in India, in 2016, was also at the MCA Stadium in Pune, the venue for Thursday’s game. Sri Lanka will hope for a similar result to keep the series alive.
India WTWLW (last five completed T20Is, most recent first)
Sri Lanka LLWLL
Harshal Patel broke into the Indian side thanks to his excellent death bowling during the 2021 IPL. But in the recent past, batters seem to have seen through him. Arshdeep’s emergence saw him not get a single match at the 2022 T20 World Cup, even as Jasprit Bumrah, India’s first-choice death bowler, fell out of the squad with a back injury. He needs to put on a good show in the remaining two games of the series, because once Bumrah is back, it will be even harder to find a place in the XI.
Bhanuka Rajapaksa was Sri Lanka’s leading points catcher during their Asia Cup 2022 campaign, scoring 191 runs with a strike rate of 149.21. But since then his returns have plummeted. At the T20 World Cup, he only scored 125 points in seven innings with a batting frequency of 119.04. In the recently concluded Lanka Premier League he did even worse: 95 runs in seven innings against 105.55. Sri Lanka will need him between runs if they want to give themselves the best chance of winning the series.
Samson is ruled out of the series with a left knee injury, and Rahul Tripathi is likely to take his place and make his India debut. Jitesh Sharma has been brought into the squad as wicketkeeper cover. And if Arshdeep is available, Malik may have to sit outside.
India (likely): 1 Ishan Kishan (wk), 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Suryakumar Yadav, 4 Rahul Tripathi, 5 Hardik Pandya (capt), 6 Deepak Hooda, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Harshal Patel, 9 Shivam Mavi, 10 Arshdeep Singh/ Umran Malik, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
Sri Lanka could consider bringing in Lahiru Kumara ahead of Kasun Rajitha, who went for 47 in his four wicketless overs in the first T20I.
Sri Lanka (likely): 1 Pathum Nissanka, 2 Kusal Mendis (wk), 3 Dhananjaya de Silva, 4 Charith Asalanka, 5 Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 6 Dasun Shanaka (capt), 7 Wanindu Hasaranga, 8 Chamika Karunaratne, 9 Maheesh Theekshana, 10 Kasun Rajitha /Lahiru Kumara, 11 Dilshan Madushanka
In contrast to many other venues, teams batting first into the MCA Stadium have won more matches than teams trailing in all T20s: 34 to 29. On a black ground here, spinners have outperformed fast bowlers slightly, their economics is 7.37 compared to 7.97 for seamen. Again, not much dew is expected, with temperatures hovering around 18°C at night.