The last two or three weeks have been just great. Ask Rahul Dravid, and he would give you a million-dollar smile, and why wouldn’t he? You can’t even recognize this Indian team to be the same as the team which was knocked out of the T20 World Cup some three months ago. India was widely criticized for being too dependent on their top 3 and lack of all-rounder options in the squad. The situation has completely reversed now. India’s so-called ‘fragile’ middle order has stepped up grandly in the past few series. All this was thanks to the omission of underperformers and giving chances to the next generation.
In Suryakumar Yadav, the Iyer duo, and Rishabh Pant, India has found an explosive middle-order that can win matches on a whim. The likes of Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar have impressed many by their fighting spirit and death-hitting. With the kind of progress India has made, they are favourites for T20 World Cup this year in Australia. Sri Lanka has been one of the sacrifices made for the new Indian side to level up. After a thrashing in 1st match, Sri Lanka fought valiantly in the 2nd one, but India proved to be too hot to handle for the islanders. With the 3rd T20I looming on our heads, who do you think will bag this one?
Rohit Sharma as a batsman hasn’t been his usual this series. His aggression at the top is declining, perhaps the burden of captaincy working its way. This, in turn, could have hurt India as the Hitman’s firepower has been one of the primary weapons in India’s arsenal, but Captain Rohit has got your back. Rohit has played dozens of mind-games on the key opposition batters and got his way one way or another. Rohit has been brilliant with his tactical comebacks, and his field setting has garnered a lot of praise.
His partner Ishan Kishan looks as untrustworthy as ever. After a fluent 89 in the first match, Ishan looked scratchy in the second one. Maybe it’s a little too soon for the MI lad. In the absence of Kohli, Iyer’s been India’s #3, and he deserved that role. Scoring 131 runs in two innings at a staggering strike rate of 181.94, staying not-out in both outings. If it weren’t for Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer would comfortably be India’s #3 in T20 WC.
Sir Jadeja is another must-mention name here. Returning from a lengthy injury, RJ has been just too good. It’s true “Form is temporary, class is permanent”, and Sir Jadeja is a different class altogether. India’s bowling has been reliable as usual. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Deepak Chahar have made solid chemistry in the powerplay. Jasprit Bumrah is still a nightmare to face. RJ and Yuzvendra Chahal are spinning their webs as usual. The only concern is that Harshal Patel is being taken to cleaners.
Sri Lanka, after a disappointing first game, nearly tied the series until a Shreyas Iyer and Ravindra Jadeja special was on the house. Asalanka’s 53* was the only saving for Sri Lanka in the first game. However, in the second game, Sri Lanka looked a lot better. Nissanka anchored his way towards a 75, while the skipper Dasun Shanaka exploded a 19-ball 47* to stage a competitive total of 183.
Shreyas Iyer and Ravindra Jadeja made a pure mockery of the total as India crossed the shore with 17 balls to spare.
What to expect in the series finale?
With India already racking up the series, they have breathing room to allow their back-ups to stretch themselves. Rohit might rest a few key players like Chahal and Bhuvi, and Shreyas Iyer and give chances to other young talents. Rohit himself would need a good rest as the two-match Test series are closer than they look.
Even though the former skipper Virat is still one of the key members of the leadership committee, it would be a tremendous pressure for Rohit to lead Men in Blue to a game of whites, both physically and mentally. Dravid would surely not like to overwork his captain and would like to give Bumrah a shot at captaincy to measure his leadership.
For Sri Lanka, it is a battle of pride now. The way they have been dismantled is downright humiliating, and they would love to give India a taste of their medicine. Words aside, the only thing which can beat the Indian team is now is their beloved complacency. It remains to be seen if Rohit can keep it away.