India beat Sri Lanka by 91 runs in Rajkot in their 3rd T20I to win the series by two matches to one.
The tourists had gone into the match with genuine hopes of a rare series win on Indian soil, after suffering a narrow 2 run defeat in the first game in Mumbai, and winning the second by 16 runs in Pune.
However, a stunning century by Suryakumar Yadav effectively blew them out of the water, the second fastest by an Indian in T20I cricket.
That helped the home side post an imposing total of 228/5, which their bowlers were able to defend with ease, bowling the tourists out for just 137.
Both teams were unchanged from the second match in Pune. That was something of a surprise from the Indian side, with the selectors keeping faith with the same bowling attack, despite some wayward showings in that game. Their faith was to be rewarded.
India won the toss and captain Hardik Pandya chose to bat first. Ishan Kishan did not last long, but Shubman Gill and Rahul Tripathi, added 49 for the second wicket, with Tripathi making an impressive 35 off just 16 balls, including 2 sixes, until he fell.
That brought Yadav to the crease and the entire complexion of the match changed, as he attacked the Sri Lankan bowlers from the start.
Gill was content to act as his foil, as the pair added 111 for the third wicket in just 9 overs. Gill was eventually dismissed for 44, but Yadav went on to complete his third T20I off just 45 balls.
With Axar Patel making a brief cameo at the end of the innings, making 21, Yadav took his score to 112 not out.
It had taken him only 51 balls, and his innings contained 9 sixes and 7 fours.
Sri Lanka made a decent start to their reply, Kusal Mendis and Pathum Nissanka putting on 44 for the first wicket. But both fell within the space of four balls, and the tourists were struggling after that.
Wickets were to fall at regular intervals after that, and their innings came to a premature end when they were all out in the 17th over.
It was a very disappointing end to a series which, at one stage, had seemed to offer so much for them.
Arshdeep Singh took 3 – 20, whilst there were two wickets each for Pandya, Umran Malik and Yuzvendra Chahal.
Key Talking Points
Yadav Makes the Difference
Nobody scored more runs in T20I cricket in 2022 than Yadav, and again he demonstrated why he is the top ranked T20I batter in the world. This was his third T20I international and arguably his best, and proved far too good for the Sri Lankan bowlers.
Singh redeems himself
Left-armed pacer Arshdeep Singh was heavily criticised after he became only the third Indian bowlers to bowl a hat-trick of no balls in the defeat in Pune. That had led to calls for him to be withdrawn from the international firing line for a while. However, the selectors kept faith with a player who was nominated for the ICC Emerging Player of the Year award, and he repaid that with a fine bowling performance, claiming 3 – 20.
He will be the better for that, and also for experiencing the sometime harsh criticism that comes with playing international cricket for India.
More positives than negatives for India
India deliberately chose to leave out some of the more established stars for this series, preferring instead to give some younger players an opportunity.
In general, the experiment worked, although if the verdict would have been the same if the result had been different is open to question.
However, they can take encouragement from the performances of several of the newcomers.
In the first match, Shivam Mavi became only the third Indian to take four wickets on his T20I debut, whilst in this game Tripathi gave hints that he has the potential to establish himself in the senior team.
Meanwhile, Axar Patel has emerged as z genuine world class spin all-rounder, suggesting that India are now ready to move on from Ravindra Jadeja.
Yadav’s talent, of course, has been known for some time, but this was further confirmation of his status.
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