Sri Lanka vs India 3rd T20I Preview: Depleted India come up against determined hosts for one last time in Colombo
Already playing with their second-string side, India are without nine players who are unavailable due to COVID-19.
Covid induced uncertainty
Really, this COVID-19 age is far too volatile. One moment, you are planning something and the next moment, you have both your hands tied behind your back.
It was shocking that the second ODI between Australia and West Indies had to be abandoned due to COVID-19 even after the toss. Hours before the 2nd T20I between India and Sri Lanka, Krunal Pandya returned a positive test for COVID-19 and the match was rescheduled for the next day.
India barely manage to get 11 on the park
Eight other Indian players who were deemed to be close contacts of Pandya have had to be isolated. Prithvi Shaw, Suryakumar Yadav, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Ishan Kishan, Yuzvendra Chahal, K Gowtham and Deepak Chahar are the eight players identified and are unavailable for the last two matches of the tour.
This left India with just 11 available players for the 2nd T20I. As coach Rahul Dravid quipped ahead of the match, we have 11 fit players and all of them are playing.
If that was not enough, Navdeep Saini who did not bowl a single ball in the 2nd T20I injured himself in the final moments of the match and is likely to be ruled out of the decider. India have already added five net bowlers to their main squad and will have to pick one of them to complete the 11.
Arshdeep Singh or R Sai Kishore are likely to make the XI. With the surface in Colombo quite slow and tacky, India will be better served to have another spinner in their ranks. They can also decide to go with Arshdeep Singh who has an assortment of variations and his slower ones will be quite handy in Colombo.
Despite playing with their third/fourth string side, India did well to take the 2nd T20I right to the last over. The team was playing with just five specialist batsmen and had no option but to be a little circumspect while batting first.
Ruturaj Gaikwad and Shikhar Dhawan gave the visiting team a good start, with the openers adding 49 runs from the first 7 overs. However, both Shikhar Dhawan and Devdutt Padikkal then got stuck in the middle against the Sri Lankan spinners and the following Indian batters Sanju Samson, Nitish Rana and Bhuvneshwar Kumar could not accelerate.
Sri Lankan spinners shine
Sri Lankan spinners were on point throughout the innings. All four of Akila Dananjaya, Dhananjaya de Silva, Ramesh Mendis and Wanindu Hasaranga their job quite well.
Isuru Udana who conceded 7 runs from his only over in the 2nd T20I injured himself while fielding and is likely to be replaced by either Pravin Jayawickrama or Lakshan Sandakan to add heft to the Sri Lankan spin department.
During the chase, both teams were in the match with the home side looking good at 55/2 after nine overs, but the Indian spinners then pulled things back.
Kuldeep and Varun stand out
Kuldeep Yadav was unfortunate to get just two wickets as he created at least five opportunities. Varun Chakravarthy was very economical and gave away just 18 runs from his four overs. Chetan Sakariya was the most expensive of the lot and conceded runs at close to 10 RPO which essentially cost India the match.
For Sri Lanka, Dhananjaya de Silva was the main batter and remained unbeaten on 40 off 34 deliveries. Had he been dismissed early, Sri Lanka might have fallen short of the target. Opener Minod Bhanuka also played his part with 36 of 31 balls.
History awaits both teams
With the series locked at 1-1, it will be a feat for either team to win the decider. If India win, they would have done it without the top 30 players in the country.
If Sri Lanka manage to get across the line, it will be their first series victory against India in a long, long time.
Predicted playing XIs:
Sri Lanka - Avishka Fernando, Minod Bhanuka (wk), Dhananjaya de Silva, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dasun Shanaka (c), Ramesh Mendis, Wanindu Hasaranga, Chamika Karunaratne, Lakshan Sandakan/Praveen Jayawickrama, Akila Dananjaya, Dushmantha Chameera
India - Shikhar Dhawan (c), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Devdutt Padikkal, Sanju Samson (wk), Nitish Rana, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Rahul Chahar, Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore/Arshdeep Singh, Chetan Sakariya, Varun Chakravarthy
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