Putting down the curtains on a rather dramatic series, Sri Lanka won the final match of their three-match T20I series against India by seven wickets on Thursday. With this series defeat in Colombo, Shikhar Dhawan became the first Indian captain to lose a T20I series to Sri Lanka.
Shikhar Dhawan said that they were thrown in a difficult spot and yet decided to play. Evidently so as the second-string team which had won the ODI series 2-1, was down nine of their vital players after all-rounder Krunal Pandya contracted COVID-19. The remaining eight players, who were found to be in close contact with him, had to also be ruled out. These included in form player Suryakumar Yadav, opener Prithvi Shaw, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Deepak Chahar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Manish Pandey, and K Gowtham. They also had to drop Navdeep Saini, who sustained a shoulder injury during the second T20I.
Dhawan acknowledged the efforts of the players, despite playing in such pressure conditions. Although India could not even reach the mark of 100 runs in the series decider, the skipper said that he was glad they reached even the 80s.
“It was a difficult situation for us, but as a team, we decided we will stay and play the series. I’m really proud of the boys as well. They showed great character in the last two games. Their attitude was tremendous, and we wanted to win as well. In every game you learn,” Shikhar Dhawan said in the post-match presentation ceremony.
“Last game was a close one, today it was an off day for the batting unit, but the boys will learn from it. We lost too many wickets today and the Sri Lanka bowlers bowled well. When you lose early wickets and you don’t have a long batting, you are under pressure. We were glad that we got into the 80s.”
Winning the toss, the tourists opted to bat first. Playing with a depleted Covid-19-hit team, India struggled to find momentum against the Sri Lankan spinners as wickets fell like dominos. Captain Shikhar Dhawan was the first to fall, that too for a duck. Devdutt Paddikal walked in at No. 3, only to return before even crossing 10 runs. Opener Ruturaj Gaikwad (14), bowlers Bhuveneshwar Kumar (16) and Kuldeep Yadav (23*) were the only ones who contributed a double-digit score. With eight wickets down, the team somehow managed to put a total of 81 runs on the board.
Wanindu Hasanranga was in ferocious form, clinching four wickets conceding only nine runs to win the Player of the Match title. Dasun Shanaka Took two wickets to restrict the opponents to a paltry total of 81 runs, while Ramesh Mendis and Dushmantha Chameera picked up one wicket each.
It was an effortless chase for the hosts, as they completed the target within 14.3 overs, losing three wickets. Dhananjaya de Silva and Wanindu Hasaranga completed the chase by posting 23* and 14* runs, respectively.
It was Sri Lanka’s second T20I series win since 2019.
India: 81/8 in 20 overs. (R Gaikwad 14, K Yadav 23; D Shanaka 2/20, W Hasaranga 4/9).
Sri Lanka: 82/3 in 14.3 overs. (D de Silva 23 not out; W Hasaranga 14 not out; R Chahar 3/15)
Result: Sri Lanka won by 7 wickets (with 33 balls remaining)