Ishan Kishan (89 off 56 balls) and Shreyas Iyer (57 not out off 28 balls) sparkled with scintillating knocks against an underwhelming Sri Lanka bowling attack to set up a convincing 62-run win at the Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium on Thursday.
In a tall chase of 200, Sri Lanka were never in the race from the word go. With the pitch slowing down in the second innings and dew not coming to their rescue, India’s bowlers did well to keep Sri Lanka to just 137/6 in their 20 overs. Such was the ease of the win that only Ravindra Jadeja completed his quota of four overs.
India struck with a wicket on the very first ball as Pathum Nissanka played on to his stumps off Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The ball kept low and Nissanka, in a bid to defend, didn’t realise that the ball rolled on to hit the stumps. Kamil Mishara struck some boundaries and was even dropped by Venkatesh Iyer at mid-wicket. But two balls later, Kumar got Mishara to miscue a slog straight to mid-wicket.
Janith Liyanage’s struggling time at the crease came to an end when he tried to pull from outside the off-stump and got a top-edge flying to point. Ravindra Jadeja, returning from an injury lay-off, shortened his length and got one to turn and bounce away from an advancing Dinesh Chandimal, resulting in an easy stumping for Ishan Kishan.
Sri Lanka’s free fall continued as Dasun Shanaka reverse-swept straight to point off Chahal. Shanaka’s dismissal made Chahal the leading wicket-taker for India in T20Is.
Chamika Karunaratne hit two sixes but gave a thick edge behind to Kishan off Iyer.
Charith Asalanka was the lone ranger for Sri Lanka while Dushmantha Chameera took a six and two fours off Iyer to showcase his batting skills. Asalanka reached his fifty off 43 balls with a flick through mid-wicket and that was the lone bright spot for Sri Lanka in the series opener.
Earlier, Kishan, who didn’t have a great time against the West Indies, toyed with the Sri Lanka bowlers and mixed fluency with dismissive shots to reach his highest T20I score. Iyer, on the other hand, stepped up in the last three overs to provide a great finish to India’s innings after being pushed into batting first.
Sharma began with a clip through the on-side before going into sedate mode. His partner, Kishan, got enough width from Karunaratne to smash three boundaries in the arc between cover and third man in the third over to get India up and running.
Kishan continued to smash a flurry of boundaries off Lahiru Kumara, Praveen Jayawickrama and Chameera in the next three overs for India to be 58/0 at the end of power-play. Post power-play, Kishan crashed a wide googly from Jeffrey Vandersay through cover. On the very next ball, Kishan was deceived by a wrong’un, only for Liyanage to spill a forward diving chance at deep mid-wicket.
Sharma cracked some boundaries while Kishan marched his way to reaching his second T20I fifty. Sri Lanka finally had a breakthrough in the 12th over when Kumara’s slower delivery kept low and went past Sharma’s attempted slog to hit the off-stump.
Post Sharma’s fall, India’s scoring went slow but Kishan broke the shackles in the 16th over, dispatching Kumara over long-on, followed by hammering back-to-back fours through point and mid-wicket.
But in the next over, Kishan departed for 89, top-edging a pull off a slower delivery from Shanaka to deep mid-wicket. Iyer timed his flicks sweetly before hammering Karunaratne over long-on for a big six, followed by collecting fours twice through short third man.
In the final over, Iyer again launched a six over long-on and then brought up his fifty off just 25 balls with a flick through square leg. Iyer was decisive in India collecting 69 runs off the last five overs, which was enough for the hosts’ to extend their winning streak in T20Is to ten matches.