Suryakumar’s stunning century propels India to 2-1 series win
Sri Lanka start quickly in steep chase before hosts trigger middle-order collapse
Maharoof: ‘If the bowler has plan A, Suryakumar has plan B and C already lined up’
India 228 for 5 (Suryakumar 112*, Gill 46, Madushanka 2-55) beat Sri Lanka 137 (Mendis 23, Arshdeep 3-20, Hardik 2-30) by 91 runs
Suryakumar Yadav’s sublime century – his third in only 43 T20I innings – set up a series win for India against Sri Lanka. Batting first in the decider, India scored 228 out of which Suryakumar hit 112 off just 51 balls. It was an innings full of trademark Suryakumar shots: inside-out drives over extra cover, ramps over short fine leg and wrists used to manufacture shots over square leg and point. India were helped along by a blazing start from Rahul Tripathi and a finishing kick from Axar Patel.
Sri Lanka kept getting boundaries in response but the asking rate was too high, and they kept losing wickets too often to seriously challenge the hosts. Once Shivam Mavi and Axar interrupted a quick start from Sri Lanka, the small margin for error kept creating more shots that weren’t quite on.
The win took India’s unbeaten streak in T20I bilaterals at home to 11 series. Only one of these series was drawn.
Tripathi announces himself
Tripathi is known for his selfless intent in the IPL no matter where you send him to bat. Having made his international debut at the age of 31, Tripathi showed that side of him in just his second match. The bowling had looked tough until then on a tacky pitch at the start of the innings: Dilshan Madushanka got Ishan Kishan in the first over, Kasun Rajitha bowled the first maiden of the series to Shubman Gill, but Tripathi salvaged the powerplay.
Tripathi first charged at Madushanka to counter the movement, and then got stuck into Maheesh Theekshana, whose control of length had been exceptional this series. Once Tripathi swept him from a decent length, though, Theekshana’s lengths went awry. Immediately after the sweep, Tripathi expected a short ball and cut it from outside leg. Then he drew a rare drive ball from Theekshana, and lofted him over mid-on. By the time he got out, Tripathi had scored 35 off 16 balls and taken India to 52 for 2 in 5.5 overs.
Most centuries in Men’s T20Is – Suryakumar Yadav at No. 2
Surya burns bright
You wonder if Sri Lanka regret getting the second wicket because Suryakumar then batted with ridiculous ease against all the bowlers. He hit nine sixes and seven fours: a boundary every three balls almost. And he still maintained a control percentage of over 84.
As often, Suryakumar didn’t need much of a sighter. The fourth ball he faced, he drove over extra-cover for four followed by a ramp-whip to drag a short ball from outside off for a six over square leg. It was almost like Suryakumar’s shots were competing among themselves to be the most audacious on the night.
Was it the wide high full toss from the left-arm quick that he sent over fine leg for a six while himself on the floor trying to get his head out of the line of danger? Or was the wide slower ball on which he somehow imparted enough whip of the wrists to be able to ramp it over fine leg for six? Or the back-foot inside-out drive to a slower legcutter for a six over extra-cover?
In the blinding lights of Suryakumar’s innings, it was easy to forget Shubman Gill scored just 46 off 36, taking ten balls to get off the mark. Batters who replaced Gill tried to hit out immediately, but only Axar was successful, scoring 21 off nine in an unbroken 39-run stand with Suryakumar off 20 balls.
Axar starts the slide
Kusal Mendis continued his good touch by running away to 21 off 10 as Sri Lanka got to 35 in 3.1 overs. Mavi then pulled them back, and Axar created enough mistakes to get Mendis caught at short third in the fifth over. Needing more than two runs a ball for the rest of the innings, the Sri Lanka batters had to keep swinging. India remained good enough to keep taking wickets.
Arshdeep Singh, still struggling for rhythm, got Pathum Nissanka with the bouncer, making it 51 for 2 in the powerplay. Avishka Fernando found fine leg off a loose ball from Hardik Pandya, Charith Asalanka hit a short ball from Yuzvendra Chahal to deep cover, and the wickets just kept falling. Arshdeep ended up with three wickets to bowl Sri Lanka out in 16.4 ov