India 162 for 5 (Hooda 41*, Axar 31*) strike Sri Lanka 160 (Shanaka 45, Mavi 4-22) by two runs
Sri Lanka recovered briefly from 68 for 5 through captain Dasun Shanaka’s 45 on 27, but Axar managed to defend 12 in a final gamble.
Theekshana, Hasaranga slow India
With all three of KL Rahul, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma missing, India played only one anchor hitter in debutant Shubman Gill. Kishan got off to a flying start, taking 26 from the first two overs, but then the masters got to work. Theekshana barely bent anything to pull or ride with its subtle variations creating more danger. Gill picked up a carrom ball but it landed on the leather only to slip further with the corner to catch it lbw.
Suryakumar Yadav needed a big sixth over to salvage the power play and finally got to bat at number 3, ending the first disaster he attempted. This seam birth had slowly surfaced.
Watching the grip available, Shanaka cleverly slipped into an over from Dhananjaya de Silva before introducing Hasaranga. In that over, De Silva Sanju allowed Samson to mistime two strokes, the second of which caught him on a short third man.
Then Hasaranga spun his web during the collaboration between Kishan and Pandya. In the end, Kishan, who had gone from 17 out of 8 to 36 out of 27, felt the need to slog it all out. When that happens, Hasaranga makes sure he picks up wickets. A wrong’un had caught Kishan at deep midwicket.
When the returning Dilshan Madushanka had Pandya running short for space and teed off, India had lost half his match for less than 100.
Hooda, Axar give India the final kick
It started with Theekshana’s first loose ball. Likely looking to get out of the spell, Theekshana dragged an attempted mis’un down in the 16th. Hooda went to work with that drawn six. And what do you know, Theekshana then responded with row length for the first time, and Hooda picked it up over midwicket for another six. Hasaranga had one left at death, and Hooda managed to pull a six off him as well when he went flatter to get out of there.
Kasun Rajitha and Madushanka finished well, but India took 34 of the last three. Hooda finished 41 out of 23, Axar 31 out of 20.
Fiery start from India
Pandya bent over the first and found movement from the surface. It made sense then to let Mavi share the new ball, as Malik and Harshal don’t stand up very often. With his fifth ball in international cricket, Mavi Pathum let Nissanka bowling with seam movement back in. Pandya followed it up with a tight over, and Mavi responded with de Silva’s wicket, caught at halfway.
Pandya bowed through the power play and Malik kept the pressure up with fast pace and accurate radar. Charith Asalanka made a top edition, which Kishan ran back to take with a spectacular dive. Harshal was lucky that Kusal Mendis timed a cut so well that he went straight to deep cover. However, his second wicket was a real deception, luring Bhanuka Rajapaksa in a shot early on.
Shanaka threatens India
In the midst of all that, it seemed that Shanaka was playing on a different surface. Everything he touched came sweet off the bat. When Hasaranga joined him with two consecutive sixes off Yuzvendra Chahal in the 14th over, Sri Lanka was well and truly back with 56 needed from the last six.
This is when India’s bowling depth came in handy. They could have now decided not to bowl any spin at all with 47 from four overs spin until then. Mavi came back to have Hasaranga caught mid, and Malik returned to have Shanaka caught at extra cover.
The final twist
It all looked over with 29 required from the last two with two wickets in hand, but Harshal bowled an ordinary 19th over to leave Sri Lanka back. It took a no-ball, a ball, two full throws and a half-tracker to make Karunaratne cut to 13 in the last over.
Two curious events happened around the last pitch of the 19th over. Karunaratne singled off the last ball, meaning Rajitha would strike at the top of the next over. Then Pandya, who had an over left but had previously cramped, asked Axar to bowl the last over. Karunaratne got an early six to make it five of three. Axar, however, got a spot on a wide ball and then gave up only singles to the last two balls, meaning the batter couldn’t get under the ball.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo