Sri Lanka and India face off in Saturday’s decisive third and final T20 from a deadlocked 1-all even keel at Rajkot going by the dictates of the previous two encounters. While the new look Indian outfit outwitted the Lankans in the opening game, Dasun Shanaka and company came good in a do or die effort to squaring up with the skipper reigning in with a fastest fifty blitzkrieg to swinging the game Sri Lanka’s way from the wobbly. His outstanding bat-ball all-round performance proved to be the ultimate centre piece to that success. That Shanaka’s heroics with the bat was paramount to Sri Lanka going through followed a Indian fight back to reducing their opponents to 110 for 4 to countering the ominous 80-run start by the Lankan openers fronted by Kusal Mendis’ fireworks half century was the salvaging turning point.
Into the final thrust to the series decider the Lankans would have to guard against complacency in the wake of Thursday’s success facing a keyed up Indian side that has displayed the essence of matching shot for shot despite setbacks. For a largely new blood outfit sans injured regular skipper Rohit Sharma they have showcased depth and it took the type of out of this world stuff of Dasun Shanaka to offsetting a 200 plus chase. It is the creditable blending rhythm of stand in skipper Hardik Pandya’s charges in just two outings that has enveloped the pre -match hype to the decider. Pitted in such a scenario core to Shanaka and his team going the final distance will be the Lankan frontline batting delivering when it matters. As in the lost opening game the frontline was exposed by the Indian bowlers, and as well as the second game despite the early fireworks by the openers that necessitated the Lankan captain to unleash a magic knock.
The Lankan bowling attack compensated for a drawback in the opening game that saw India post 162 for 5. In both games the Indians took it down to the wire despite Pandya and Kishan failing to fire. The bottom line to the decider will be that India is vulnerable under pressure of a big target as they wilted in the second game. The toss will also be key to the dictates of the game. The Lankans will certainly have to produce the type of,batting befitting a virtual final to winning the series.