India won the fourth match of the T20 tri-series against Sri Lanka by a comfortable margin of six wickets. India now leads the points table with four points. India chased down the target in 17.3 overs as Manish Pandey top-scored for the tourists with 42 runs.
Sri Lanka batted first and posted a respectable total of 152/9 in 20 overs courtesy a 55 runs innings by opener Kusal Mendis.
However, the star of the match for India was Shardul Thakur as he picked up four wickets in his quota of four overs and gave away just 27 runs. Shardul along with Jaydev Unadlkat is leading the Indian bowling line up in the absence of their prime fast bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jaydev Unadkat.
Thakur has been bowling well in the tri-series. The Sri Lankan batsmen attacked him in the first match, but Thakur made a remarkable comeback in the series and was also instrumental in India’s win against the hosts in the fourth match of the series.
Thakur added that he loves challenges and needs to step-up in Kumar’s and Bumrah’s absence. He said:
“I have told one thing before: I love challenges. I am taking it as a challenge. If other senior bowlers are missing from the team, then I have to step up. I have done this previously for other teams that I have played for. I have come in place of Zaheer Khan, Dhawal Kulkarni and Ajit Agarkar while playing for Mumbai (in Ranji Trophy). I had to step up in that role. When senior bowlers are rested, I have to step up and fill that role to lead the pace attack.”
Talking about his latest innovation with the knuckleball, he said:
“Zaheer did it actually, but I didn’t watch much of his videos. I always knew what the grip was, and then I learned it on my own. I have been practising it for a long time. It didn’t come easily. Whenever I found time to play with white ball while playing domestic cricket, I used to try knuckle ball. Probably for two years, I have been practising it now.”
Thakur also added Upul Tharanga and Thisara Perera’s wicket helped them to reduce to a comparatively low score.
“The way they (Lanka) were going, they would have scored at least 165 to 170 but we got Upul (Tharanga) out when he was coming hard at us. Thisara then came in and hit a few boundaries. So I think those crucial 2-3 wickets kept coming and we were probably able to cut down the total by 15-20 runs.”
“In T20 cricket, you need to be ready for surprises. The first game was a surprise and an eye opener for us. I was hit for 27 runs and also some overs went for above 15 runs. I feel the game against Bangladesh and in this game, we came back strongly and executed our plans well.”
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