Hardik Pandya in post-match presentation© BCCI/Sportzpics
The Indian cricket team lost the second T20I of the 3-match series against Sri Lanka in a nail-biting affair that saw the middle-order batters Suryakumar Yadav and Axar Patel keep the team in the hunt for 207-run target. India’s top-order crumbled, putting immense pressure on the batting unit in the middle. While Suryakumar and Axar managed to keep India in the game for the most part of the match, some eyebrows were raised when the debutant Rahul Tripathi came ahead of Suryakumar.
Playing in place of Sanju Samson, Tripathi was expected to take up the finisher’s role in the team alongside Hardik Pandya and Axar Patel. But, he batted at a ‘more natural’ No. 3 spot, pushing Suryakumar down at 4th.
When India’s skipper Hardik was asked about this decision, he said: “Surya had a fantastic run at four. Rahul is accustomed to playing at no. 3, and someone coming in, we want to give them a role they are comfortable with. That’s why he batted at No. 3.”
Tripathi didn’t have a debut to remember. He could only score 5 runs from 5 bowls in his maiden T20I outing for India.
Bowlers led by Kasun Rajitha kept down India to 190-8 despite a threatening 91-run sixth-wicket stand between Suryakumar Yadav (51) and Axar Patel (65).
Captain Shanaka turned up with his medium-pace bowling for the 20th over to send back Axar and Shivam Mavi, who hit 26 off 15 balls, and take the series into the decider on Saturday in Rajkot.
But it was Shanaka’s batting that set up victory as he tore into the Indian attack with his fifty off 20 balls the fastest by a Sri Lankan batsman in the T20 format.
With AFP inputs
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