India prevailed in a low-scoring thriller thanks to late runs from Deepak Hooda and Axar Patel, and exceptional seam bowling from an attack missing Jasprit Bumrah, Arshdeep Singh and Mohammed Shami. The Wankhede pitch was anything but the batting paradise it usually is in T20 cricket: there was grip for spinners, which Sri Lanka used well, before the new ball seamed around for India’s quicks.
Ishan Kishan got India off to a quick start before the spinners pulled them back. Hooda and Axar then added 68 in 5.5 overs to take India to 162. On the same pitch, India found assistance for fast bowlers with Hardik Pandya joining debutant Shivam Mavi, Umran Malik and Harshal Patel in causing damage.
Sri Lanka had a brief recovery from 68 for 5 through captain Dasun Shanaka’s 45 off 27, but Axar managed to defend 12 in a last-over gamble.
Theekshana, Hasaranga slow India down
With all three of KL Rahul, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma missing, India played only one anchor batter in debutant Shubman Gill. Kishan got them off to a rollicking start, taking 26 off the first two overs, but then the masters went to work. Theekshana hardly bowled anything to pull or drive with his subtle variations causing more jeopardy. Gill picked a carrom ball, but it landed on the leather to skid on with the angle to trap him lbw.
Needing a big sixth over to salvage the powerplay, Suryakumar Yadav, finally getting to bat at No. 3, cue-ended the first ramp he attempted. This seam-up delivery had come on slowly off the surface.
Looking at the grip available, Shanaka cleverly slipped in an over of Dhananjaya de Silva before introducing Hasaranga. In that over, de Silva had Sanju Samson mistiming two slogs, the second of which had him caught at short third man.
Then Hasaranga spun his web during the partnership between Kishan and Pandya. Eventually Kishan, who had gone from 17 off 8 to 36 off 27, felt the need to slog-sweep everything. When that is happening, Hasaranga makes sure he picks up wickets. A wrong’un had Kishan caught at deep midwicket.
When the returning Dilshan Madushanka had Pandya cramped for room and nicking off, India had lost half their side for under 100.
Hooda, Axar give India the finishing kick
It started with the first loose ball from Theekshana. Probably looking to get out of the spell, Theekshana dragged down an attempted wrong’un in the 16th over. Hooda got going with that pulled six. And what do you know, Theekshana then responded with driving length for the first time, and Hooda picked it up over midwicket for another six. Hasaranga had one over at the death, and Hooda managed to pull one six off him too as he went flatter to get out of that over.
Kasun Rajitha and Madushanka closed out well but India managed 34 off the last three. Hooda ended with 41 off 23, Axar 31 off 20.
Fiery start from India
Pandya bowled the first over and found movement off the surface. It then made sense to have Mavi share the new ball because Malik and Harshal don’t often stand the seam up. With his fifth ball in international cricket, Mavi had Pathum Nissanka bowled with seam movement back in. Pandya followed it up with a tight over, and Mavi responded with de Silva’s wicket, caught at mid-on.
Pandya bowled through the powerplay, and Malik kept the pressure up with high pace and accurate radar. Charith Asalanka top-edged a pull, which Kishan ran back to take with a spectacular dive. Harshal was lucky that Kusal Mendis timed a cut so well it carried straight to deep cover. His second wicket was proper deception, though, with Bhanuka Rajapaksa tricked early into a shot.
Shanaka threatens India
Amid all that, it appeared Shanaka was playing on a different surface. Everything he hit came sweetly off the bat. When Hasaranga joined him with two successive slog-swept sixes off Yuzvendra Chahal in the 14th over, Sri Lanka were well and truly back with 56 needed off the last six.
This is when India’s bowling depth came in handy. They could have decided now to bowl no spin at all with 47 off four overs of spin till then. Mavi came back to have Hasaranga caught at mid-off, and Malik returned to have Shanaka caught at extra cover.
The final twist
It seemed all over with 29 required off the last two with two wickets in hand, but Harshal bowled an ordinary 19th over to let Sri Lanka back. There was a no-ball, a wide, two full tosses and a half-tracker to let Karunaratne bring it down to 13 needed off the last over.
Two curious events happened around the last ball of the 19th over. Karunaratne took the single off the last ball, which meant Rajitha would be on strike at the start of the next over. Then Pandya, who had an over left but had suffered a cramp earlier, asked Axar to bowl the last over. Karunaratne got an early six in to make it five off three. Axar, though, got a dot with a wide ball and then conceded just singles off the last two balls, not letting the batter get under the ball.
(Story from ESPNcricinfo by Sidharth Monga)