Today’s second T20 encounter against India will be a must win decisive factor to Sri Lanka as to whether the hosts staying on course to going the distance to win the series when the two sides lock horns at the R. Premadasa Stadium. Badly in need of a long eluding series win with a blot in the recent series’ against Bangladesh and England following straight losses in both the ODIs and T20s, this final phase of the series versus India thus is of importance to this Lankan T20 team where the slogan word is nothing short of winning and going the extra mile to winning the series.
But to sound the winning board Dasun Shanaka and his charges will have to come out of the shackles of the pathetic performance in the opening contest where the batting came apart skittled out for a paltry 126 in just 18.3 overs. In the robust short version of international cricket that spellbindingly demands nothing short of electrifying stroke play given the limited number of overs Sri Lanka’s frontline batsmen fell badly short of expectations of producing the type of cricket that turns such contests on their head. The exception was Charith Asalanka who proved to be an example to the rest many of whom are by far senior to him given the fact that the youngster has just been onto the blocks of the action packed dynamism of cricket’s new fad. Therein, hats off to the left-hander whose 26-ball 44 was a scorcher. That there was no rallying solidarity was certainly the downsising to throwin in the towel to the Indians.
In that backdrop, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who struck a dashing match winning 65-ball 56 in the only game Sri Lanka has won in a long time in the final ODI against the Indians, not figuring in the T20 opener was indeed mystifying. At a juncture Sri Lanka’s T20 reputation is at stake having to qualify for the next T20 World Cup by having to win a first round play-off and be among the first two in that group that will have minnows such as Ireland in that group, having on board the best and nothing but the best latent talent will be still more important. Certainly, the batsmen will have to measure up to the harsh demands of T20 cricket if they are to bring down the strong Indians who have underscored the fact that even the newcomers are batsmen with plenty of gall capable of fronting match winning scores.
Towards a Lankan victory scripting, the bowling department too will require a measure of more than the twosome of Dushmantha Chameera and Wanindu Hasaranga whose 2 wickets apiece was not adequate to stop India’s victory thrust built around a formidable 164 for 4 that was demoralised the hosts.