Sri Lanka 206 for 6 (Shanaka 56*, Kusal 52, Malik 3-48, Axar 2-24) count India 190 for 8 (Axar 65, Suryakumar 51, Shanaka 2-4, Rajitha 2-22) by 16 runs
However, as India needed 21 to win the final, Shanaka picked up the ball for his first over, took two wickets and helped his side cross the line.
Kusal Mendis starts in fifth gear before the spinners hit
It started well enough for India. They won the coin toss and were able to bowl first to avoid fielding later in the dew. Hardik Pandya bowled the first over and conceded only two runs. And then it all went downhill. Mendis went on a rampage as Sri Lanka hit 45 runs in the next three overs to create panic in the India camp. Mendis raced to a 27-ball fifty.
Hardik had to rely on his spinners to pull things back. Axar and Yuzvendra Chahal put a lid on the score and took wickets at the same time. The duo conceded just 54 runs from their eight overs combined.
Arshdeep and a story of five no-balls
Arshdeep has not played competitive cricket since the last ODI against New Zealand on November 30 and it was inevitable that he would come into this T20I rusty. He was introduced in the second over and started with a half-volley to the pads cut by the square leg. No fuss – the first ball happens after a rather long break. The next four balls just went for a run. Then began a saga of inexplicable no-balls – three on the bounce in his first over. The first was sprayed to a leg, the next shot to a deep back square leg for a four and the third smoked over the fielder in the same region.
Arshdeep wasn’t brought back until the 19th, and when he was, the horror no-balls continued. He bowled two more – Shanaka was caught long-on from one of those – to finish with figures of 37 runs in two overs. His five no-balls changed the complexion of the game.
Shanaka continues his rule in India
As the Sri Lanka captain ran to the centre, his side stuttered to 110 for 4 in the 14th over. He then saw Charith Asalanka and Wanindu Hasaranga fall from successive balls to Umran Malik and faced the hat-trick ball. One he pumped straight over the bowler’s head. At that, Shanaka was unstoppable. He brought up his fifty off 20 balls, the fastest by a Sri Lankan in men’s T20Is, as they scored 93 runs in the last six overs. Later, when the chase became tricky, he took it upon himself to throw the final over and took two wickets, giving away four runs.
Sri Lanka accelerates to India’s top spot
Seeing Sri Lanka finish their innings might have given hope to India’s top order that Pune’s surface was packed with runs. They were shaken awake. Sri Lanka’s fast bowlers bowled with verve and had the batters in all sorts of trouble. By the time the power play ended, the hosts were down to 39 for 4, with all of Dilshan Madushanka, Kasun Rajitha and Chamika Karunaratne on the board.
Axar, Suryakumar performs a fight back to remember
India languished at 64 for 5 after 10 overs. With a long tail ahead, a heavy defeat seemed imminent. Then came a run-out opportunity, one that saw Axar and Suryakumar almost on the same side. Sri Lanka missed, and that turned a switch. Both Suryakumar and Axar went for their shots like mad. No Sri Lankan bowler was spared and a required speed of often close to 15 was managed reasonably well. Axar brought up his fifty from 20 balls, Suryakumar from 33. In the end, however, the target turned out to be a peak too big to climb.