In what was his most defining moment in his T20 career Dasun Shanaka rose in stature to lifting Sri Lanka to a 16-run victory over India from a shaky 110 for 4 wickets by a furious fastest T20I fifty by a Lankan, 56-run onslaught off 22 balls tucked with 6 sixes and 2 boundaries accentuated by a brilliant all-round performance claiming 2 wickets in one over for 4 to level the 3-match series 1-1 at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune on Thursday night.
The 31-year old Lankan skipper came into his own igniting the explosive stroke-play that propelled him to the big stage in setting ablaze the decisive night encounter in a hail of shot making over the top and capping it with a typical from the front captain’s job of checking a late Indian resurgence by getting rid of Axar Patel who produced an equally ominous blitzkrieg of 65 off 31 bathed with 6 over the top and 3 to the ropes. Patel had threatened to take the game away from Sri Lanka in an onslaught adding 91 runs with Suryakumar Yadav 51 off 36 who matched shot for shot 3 sixes and an equal number to the ropes as India recovered from 57 for 5 after 9.1 overs to 148 for 6 when the partnership was broken by pacie Dilshan Madushanka who had him caught by Wanindu Hasaranga. But Patel continued to give India an outside chance hitting Madushanka for 6, 4 and 6 off the fourth, fifth and last ball of the 18th over when Shanaka brought himself on to settle the matter. He sent back Patel off his third delivery of the final over and followed up with the wicket of Shivarn Mavi off the final ball of the innings having him caught by Maheesh Theekshana for 26.
The Lankan captain trumped up his performance with the deserving Player of the Match big take in a contest this new look Indian side minus the injured regular skipper Rohit Sharma had swung from the doldrums to a dramatic showdown, by the late gung ho of Patel and Yadav. Full marks to pacie Kasun Rajitha who removed both openers Ishan Kishan for 2 and Shubman Gill for 5 as well as newcomer Dilshan Madushanka who accounted for the third wicket that of Rahul Trioathi caught by Kusal Mendis for 5 as India was reduced to 3 for 21 and 4 for 34 after 4.4 overs with Chamika Karunaratne claiming the prize wicket of Indian stand in skipper Hardik Pandya for 12 giving Mendis his second catch.
Madushanka did a great job in getting rid of Suryakumar Yadav caught by Hasaranga. The Lankan innings prospered on a 80-run partnership in 8.2 overs by openers Kusal Mendis who struck a cameo 52 off 31 topped by 4 over the top and 3 boundaries, and Pathum Nissanka a run a ball 33 with 4 boundaries. But India struck claiming four wickets in the space of 26 balls as Sri Lanka slipped to 110 for 4 after 13.4. Mendis was trapped leg before wicket by Chahal and Bhanuka Rajapaksa promoted in the batting order followed five balls later for 2 in the space of five balls with Chahal trapping Mendis leg before wicket and Malik bowling Rajapaksa. Nissanka was taken by Axar who had him caught by Triparthi as Sri Lanka collapsed to 96 for 3 after 11.3 and when Dhananjaya de Silva went for 3 caught by Hooda off Patel Sri Lanka was in all sorts of trouble at 110 for 4 after 13.4. That was when Dasun Shanaka came to the show joining Charith Asalanka who blazed 37 off 10 balls going over the top on four occasions in the Lankans topping 200 for the loss of 6 wickets. The duo added 28 off 13 balls when Asalanka departed caught by Gill off Malik – 138 for 5 after 15.5. Wanindu Hasaranga was bowled first ball by Malik and it took Chamika Karunaratne to foil the hat-trick as he went on to an unbeaten run a ball 11.
CHIEF SCORES: SRI LANKA 206/6 (20 Overs) (Dasun Shanaka n.o. 56, Kusal Mendis 52, Charith Asalanka 37, Pathum Nissanka 33, Chamika Karunaratne n o.. 11, Malik 3/48, Azar 2/24, Chahal 1/30)
INDIA 190/8 (20 Overs) (Axar Patel 65, Suryakumar Yadav 51, Shivarn Mavi 26, Hardik Pandya 12, Kasun Rajitha 2/22,.Dilshan Madushanka 2/45, Chamika Karunaratne 1/41, Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva 1/41)