India beat Sri Lanka by two runs in the first T20I on January 3 at Wankhede Stadium. The hosts held their nerve to win.
The first game showed how close the two sides are skill-wise, which will lead to individual matchups. Teams know each other’s strengths and shortcomings.
Let’s look at three crucial matchups in the second T20I in Pune on Thursday (January 5):
1. Ishan Kishan vs. Maheesh Theekshana
Ishan Kishan started the first T20I well. Once Maheesh Theekshana and Dananjaya de Silva were introduced, he slowed down.
Sri Lankans know southpaw difficulties against off-spin. Kishan has scored 25 runs off 39 balls against right-arm off-spinners in T20Is, a strike rate of 64.1.
The 24-year-old has been rejected three times, so similar strategy could be employed again in Pune. Theekshana is sure of catching Kishan on Thursday.
2. Suryakumar Yadav vs.
Wanindu Hasaranga bowled 1/22 from four overs in Sri Lanka’s first T20I loss. He plagued Indian batsmen at Wankhede and will be vital in Pune.
Suryakumar Yadav has been fantastic against the Sri Lankan all-rounder.
Yadav hammered Hasaranga for 52 runs off 28 balls during India’s 2021 white-ball tour. Leg-spinner also dismissed star batsman.
Both players will feel they can control the other, making for an interesting match.
3. Umran Malik vs. Dasun Shanaka
Umran Malik dismissed Dasun Shanaka in the opening T20I. He clocked 155 kmph, an Indian bowler’s fastest delivery in international cricket.
Shanaka hit Malik for four and six, but he only scored one run off the speedster’s other six deliveries. The Sri Lankan captain appeared uncomfortable with Malik’s speed, so this may be a battle to watch in the second T20I.