If the Indian team were looking forward to getting some stiff competition from the Lankans, they were wrong. A depleted Sri Lanka beat a near full-strength Pakistan at their home which flagged that they can throw a surprise on the Indian shores as well. At Indore, the first five overs or so felt like it, but as the game progressed, the tourists couldn’t survive the wrath of the Indian bowling attack or withstand the onslaught launched with their bat.
Despite playing an under-strength bowling attack, it hardly seemed like it. The first five overs may have pegged their bowlers marginally backwards; however, like most situations, the hosts fought their way back to restrict Sri Lanka to a gettable score. And the fact that the likes of Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur stood tall when Jasprit Bumrah didn’t have an entirely desirable day poses ominous sings for the Australians. The batting department also stepped up to chase 143 without much trouble. All that came together in the second T20I forms a big part of their World Cup plans too.
Meanwhile, the visitors have a tough task ahead of them to stop the Indian juggernaut after an inauspicious start to 2020. Same old problems haunted Sri Lanka, having their batsmen not being able to convert starts to something substantial. Ahead of the series decider, they have also suffered a blow in terms of Isuru Udana’s back injury, who is set to miss the game. The think-tank may also consider bringing in Angelo Mathews for Bhanuka Rajapaksa to blood some experience and to get an anchor batsman in the side. But Lasith Malinga’s men need more than a textbook coaching to level the series.
Date and venue: January 10th, 2020, 7:00 pm, Maharashtra Cricket Association, Pune
As already stated, Isuru Udana will miss the series decider in Pune. In the absence of the left-arm seamer, Kasun Rajitha may take his place in the side. Additionally, Sri Lanka could also find a way to slot in Angelo Mathews to get some stability in the middle-order.
Predicted XI: Avishka Fernando, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Perera (wk), Oshada Fernando, Bhanuka Rajapaksa/Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dasun Shanaka, Kasun Rajitha, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lahiru Kumara, Lasith Malinga (c)
The home side has got no reasons to tinker with the playing eleven. If anything, they may want to obtain a bit more discipline and alertness on the field after some minor fielding lapses in Indore.
Besides that, they have all their bases covered to secure a series win.
Predicted XI: Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Shivam Dube, Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini.
The official from the MCA Stadium in Pune has promised to serve a deck that will assist both the bowlers and batsmen. Sri Lankan bowlers largely outclassed the Indian batsmen in this venue back in 2016. Hence, if the track is green yet again, one can expect a surprise from the tourists.
The weather is expected to remain cloudy in the afternoon on Friday. However, no showers are on the cards. The maximum temperature will range around 29-30 degrees while the minimum temperature will oscillate between 15-16 degrees.
Head to Head:
India won: 12
Sri Lanka won: 5
No result – 1
Stats that matter:
With 52 wickets, Jasprit Bumrah is tied along with Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravichandran Ashwin for most wickets in T20 internationals for India.
Lasith Malinga has played 22 T20I matches for Sri Lanka as captain along with Kumar Sangakkara. Both the Sri Lankan greats come second in the list which is topped by Dinesh Chandimal, who has captained the team in 26 games.
Virat Kohli has 37 catches in 77 T20I fixtures. Two more catches will put him ahead of Rohit Sharma, who has 38 in 104 games.
Given how the second T20 international panned out, the men in blue look in perfect shape to put a seal on the series. Nevertheless, they need to be wary of Lasith Malinga’s men, who can outclass any team on their day.