Wow!! This is the new India. You put them under pressure and they hit back under extreme pressure situations. This is what happened in the second between India and Sri Lanka. Throughout the 276-run chase, they were always behind with wickets falling at regular intervals. But their lower-order batsman Deepak Chahar kept his cool and played a match-winning knock of 69 runs to help India seal the series with a match to go.
Earlier, Sri Lanka surprised everyone by opting to bat first after winning the toss. Their openers Avishka Fernando and Minod Bhanuka started in a similar fashion to the first ODI. But this time there was more intent in their batting as they took on the Indian bowling. The visitors’ woes of not picking wickets in the powerplay continued. The 77-run stand was finally broken by the leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal who dismissed Minod for a well-made 36.
Bhanuka Rajapaksa then bagged a first-ball duck and suddenly India were back in the game. Spinners began to strangle the hosts in the middle just like the opening game.
Soon Dhananjaya de Silva wasted yet another start after scoring 32 to leave Sri Lanka at 134/4 in the 28th over. One felt as if it was a repeat of the first ODI. Dasun Shanaka and Wanindu Hasaranga both got out without contributing much and with more than 10 overs to go, Sri Lanka had only four wickets in hand.
Jeeti baazi haarne wale ko srilanka kehten hain! The self belief of Indian cricket is incredible. Well played @deepak_chahar9 in the end when it mattered most. #SLvsIND #INDvsSL pic.twitter.com/5blYyB1lAW— R P Singh रुद्र प्रताप सिंह (@rpsingh) July 20, 2021
But Charith Asalanka was batting well by then and he found a perfect ally in Chamika Karunaratne at the other end. The duo added 50 runs together for the seventh wicket stand. Asalanka got to his half-century while Chamika impressed yet again at the death with his unbeaten 44 off 33 to propel Sri Lanka to 275 runs for the loss of nine wickets.
For India Bhuvneshwar and Chahal picked up three wickets each while Deepak Chahar picked up a couple. Kuldeep Yadav went wicketless while conceding 55 runs and Krunal Pandya was once again tight with his lines.
There was an air of extreme excitement around how would India’s chase unfold after the way they batted in the first ODI. It started the same way as well with Prithvi Shaw smashing three fours in the opening over. But Sri Lanka smartly played a gamble to introduce leg-spinner Hasaranga in the third over and paid off instantly. Shaw was bowled in an attempt to attack.
Ishan Kishan never looked settled in the middle and played on off Kasun Rajitha. Shikhar Dhawan was once again batting well at the other end while Manish Pandey looked class apart. The duo rebuilt the innings with a decent partnership.
At 65/3, Sri Lanka sniffed a massive chance but India still had Pandey and in-form Suryakumar Yadav in the middle. Both the players didn’t look flustered at all and churned runs very easily. The 50-run stand was looking ominous before disaster struck for Pandey.
Hardik Pandya failed to add to the scoreboard and suddenly, the visitors found themselves in more than a spot of bother at 116/5 after only 18 overs.
Meanwhile, Suryakumar Yadav was batting like a dream at the other end and even under pressure, he managed to keep the stirke-rate above 100. He got to his fifty nonchalantly too and one felt as if he was on a mission to take India home.
Krunal Pandya tried to handle the situation with a calm and composed 35 but it was that man again Hasaranga who bluffed him with a beauty of a delivery. The left-hander was bowled and at 193/7, India were surely out of the game.
He played and calculated the chase superbly and got an able ally in the veteran Bhuvneshwar Kumar who had done it before in the same country while batting with MS Dhoni. Deepak played brilliant shots in the process and soon, it came within India’s grasp.
The India head coach came out of the dressing room and had a message to convey to the batters in the middle with around five overs to go in the chase.