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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

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Recent Match Report – India vs Sri Lanka 3rd T20I 2022/23

India 228 for 5 (Suryakumar 112*, Gill 46, Madushanka 2-55) Sri Lanka 137 (Mendis 23, Arshdeep 3-20, Hardik 2-30) with 91 runs

Suryakumar Yadav’s superb century – his third in just 43 T20I innings – secured a series victory for India against Sri Lanka. India batted first in the decider and scored 228 of which Suryakumar hit 112 from just 51 balls. It was an innings full of signature Suryakumar shots: inside-out drives over extra cover, ramps over short fine legs and wrists used to make shots over square leg and point. India was helped along by a lightning start from Rahul Tripathi and a final kick from Axar Patel.

Sri Lanka kept getting boundaries in response, but the question rate was too high and they kept losing wickets too often to seriously challenge the hosts. When Shivam Mavi and Axar interrupted a fast start from Sri Lanka, the small margin of error led to more shots that weren’t quite right.

The win took India’s undefeated streak in T20I bilaterals at home to 11 series. Only one of these series was drawn.

Tripathi announces herself

Tripathi is known for his selfless intentions in the IPL no matter where you send him. Tripathi made his international debut at the age of 31, showing that side of him in just his second match. The bowling had looked difficult up to that point on a tacky pitch at the start of the innings: Dilshan Madushanka got Ishan Kishan in the first over, Kasun Rajitha bowled the first maiden of the series to Shubman Gill, but Tripathi saved the power play.

Tripathi first attacked Madushanka to counter the move, then got stuck in Maheesh Theekshana, whose control over the length this series had been exceptional. However, when Tripathi swept him from a decent length, Theekshana’s lengths went awry. Immediately after the sweep, Tripathi expected a short ball and cut it off the outside leg. Then he pulled a rare drive ball from Theekshana and lifted it halfway. By the time he was released, Tripathi had scored 35 off 16 balls to take India to 52 for 2 in 5.5 overs.

Surya burns brightly

One wonders if Sri Lanka regretted getting the second wicket as Suryakumar then hit all the bowlers with ridiculous ease. He hit nine sixes and seven fours: a boundary almost every three balls. And he still maintained a control rate of over 84.

As so often, Suryakumar did not need many viewers. The fourth ball he faced he drove over extra cover for four, followed by a ramp whip to drag off a short ball from the outside for a six over square leg. It was almost as if Suryakumar’s shots were vying with each other to be the most daring of the night.

Was it the wide high full throw of the left arm that he sent six times over the fine leg as he himself tried to get his head out of harm’s way on the ground? Or was the wide, slower ball he somehow whipped enough to make him run six times over a fine leg? Or the back-foot inside-out drive to a slower legcutter for a six over extra cover?

In the dazzling lights of Suryakumar’s innings it was easy to forget that Shubman Gill scored just 46 from 36 and needed ten balls to get off target. Batters who replaced Gill immediately tried to strike out, but only Axar was successful, scoring 21 of nine in an unbroken 39-run run with Suryakumar off 20 balls.

Axar starts the slide

Kusal Mendis continued his good feeling by running away to 21 from 10 as Sri Lanka came to 35 in 3.1 overs. Mavi then pulled them back and Axar made enough mistakes to catch Mendis in the fifth over in a close third. Needing more than two runs per ball for the rest of the innings, Sri Lanka’s batters had to keep swinging. India remained good enough to keep taking wickets.

Arshdeep Singh, still struggling for rhythm, got Pathum Nissanka with the bouncer making it 51 for 2 in the power play. Avishka Fernando found a fine leg from a loose ball from Hardik Pandya, Charith Asalanka hit a short ball from Yuzvendra Chahal deep into cover, and the wickets just kept falling. Arshdeep finished with three wickets to bowl out Sri Lanka in 16.4 overs.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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