India registered a comprehensive victory over Sri Lanka in the third T20I at Rajkot to clinch the three-match series 2-1. This is the seventh successive bilateral series win for India in the shortest format of the game and heralds a new era for the Men in Blue as they step into a new era without their senior players.
India edged out Sri Lanka in the first T20I by a 2-run margin, while Sri Lanka outclassed the hosts in the second T20I to everyone’s surprise. But Hardik Pandya’s men dominated proceedings on Saturday, with Surya Kumar Yadav’s century propelling India to 228/5, with the visitors crumbling under pressure in the second innings.
As the Men in Blue prepare for the ODI series starting tomorrow, here are the best and worst-performing players from the T20I series:
Surya Kumar Yadav
At the age of 32, Surya Kumar Yadav is steadily making his mark on the world stage, with the likelihood of rivalling Universe Boss Chris Gayle as the format’s best batsman in its history. While he flopped in the first T20I, Surya Kumar Yadav stole the show in the next two games as he scored 163 runs, with a half-century and century in the second and third T20Is respectively.
Surya Kumar Yadav’s century in Rajkot was one of the finest innings ever in a T20 International, as he scored seven 4s and nine 6s in a display of effortless batting. He brought up his hundred in just 45 balls, the second-fastest for India. With a strike rate of 180.34, Surya Kumar Yadav is now the player with the highest strike rate in T20Is.
While he scored just 45 runs with the bat during the series, India’s captain had a brilliant time with the ball during all three fixtures, bowling economically at critical moments during the game. But more evident was Hardik Pandya’s maturity as a captain during the series, with his rotation of the bowlers receiving praise from all quarters.
With Rohit Sharma now almost out of the equation for the Men in Blue in T20s, Hardik Pandya is almost sure to take over the responsibility as India’s full-time captain in the format.
Axar Patel made a strong case to become a regular all-rounder in India’s squad in the three-match series, impressing with both the bat and the ball in all three T20Is. A blistering 31-run inning in the first T20I was followed by a masterclass in the second T20I – where he scored 65 runs at a strike rate of 209.68. Axar Patel’s heroics nearly took India to victory in the second T20I. To follow it up, the spin all-rounder scored 21 runs from just nine balls in the third game – ending the series with a better strike rate than Surya Kumar Yadav.
Even with the ball, Axar Patel was both economical and efficient, taking three wickets in the series while conceding just 60 runs in 10 overs. With Ravindra Jadeja nearing the tail-end of his career, Axar Patel can prove to be the perfect replacement in India’s squad across all formats.
The top wicket-taker for India during the series, Umran Malik defied expectations during the series and proved to be a valuable asset in Team India’s arsenal. Umran Malik took seven wickets during the series with a bowling average of 15.14. This is particularly impressive given how much the 23-year-old relies on pace alone to take wickets, with his 155 kph ball to Sri Lankan captain Dasun Shanaka breaking the fastest-ball record by Indian pacers.
While Umran Malik is yet to address concerns around the lack of variation in his bowling, it is evident that the pacer is improving match after match, and he could become a regular player in the Indian team alongside Jasprit Bumrah.
Among all the young stars making their case for a regular inclusion in Team India’s squad, Shubman Gill has been the biggest disappointment of the series. With immense competition for the opener spot in the team, Shubman Gill wasted the opportunities he was given in all three T20Is, making his future with the team a little bleak.
Single-digit scores in the first T20Is were followed by a 36-ball 46 in the third T20I, during which Shubman Gill wasted valuable balls in the powerplay overs for Team India. With the likes of Ruturaj Gaikwad waiting to break into the Indian team, Shubman Gill might not have many opportunities left to keep his spot in the team.
After breaking into the top-10 rankings last year, Ishan Kishan is failing to maintain his form in recent games. The 24-year-old attracted the world’s attention with a magnificent double-century against Bangladesh in December but has failed to put up a similar performance with the bat in the series against Sri Lanka.
With just 40 runs in three games, Ishan Kishan’s average in the shortest format of the game has now dropped to 27.34 – the lowest among India’s top-order batsmen. If Ishan Kishan fails to impress in the ODI series against Sri Lanka, his spot in the team could come into contention.
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