Sri Lanka v India: T20I form a worrying case for hosts to solve in Colombo episodes

By Sports Desk July 24, 2021

Sri Lanka will be hoping a win in 50-over cricket can trigger a white-ball resurgence as they prepare to take on India in a three-match T20I series, beginning on Sunday in Colombo.

Half-centuries from Avishka Fernando and Bhanuka Rajapaksa helped Sri Lanka win the third and final ODI between the nations on Friday, just their second win in 11 outings.

They have struggled in T20 action too, winning just once in their previous 13 completed fixtures. Home advantage should help, yet they have not triumphed at the R. Premadasa Stadium – the venue for all three of the upcoming fixtures against India – in the shortest format since August 2018.

Runs were hard to come by on the recent tour of England, including being bowled out for 91 in the final match as the hosts completed an emphatic 3-0 sweep at the Ageas Bowl.

Sri Lanka at least avoided that fate against India in one-day action, aided by a turning track on Friday that allowed their spinners to trigger a batting collapse – the tourists lost their final seven wickets for just 68 runs following a rain delay.

They could also be boosted by the return of Wanindu Hasaranga, who missed the final ODI due to an injury concern.

India, meanwhile, remain without a number of their star names, so these games provide crucial opportunities for fringe players as they look to impress, particularly as this is a World Cup year.

Pushing the boundaries

Sri Lanka have hit a boundary once every 7.7 balls faced in the powerplay overs since the beginning of 2020 in T20I action, the worst rate for any team in that period. 

India have the third-slowest rate, taking 5.6 balls for every boundary. Captain Shikhar Dhawan will hope to help lower that number as he continues to lead the team, while Prithvi Shaw could get the chance to stake his claim for a regular top-order spot.

Positive spin can help India

Varun Chakravarthy could finally be handed his international debut in the series. India appeared keen to pick the mystery spinner against England in the T20I series on home soil earlier this year, yet concerns over his level of fitness ruled him out of contention.

The 29-year-old is a compelling option, though. He has taken 25 wickets in 21 matches in the Indian Premier League, 17 of which came in a 2020 campaign for the Kolkata Knight Riders that saw him finish with an economy rate of 6.84 runs per over.

Key series facts

– India are unbeaten against Sri Lanka in multi-game bilateral T20I series (W3 D1). India have beaten Sri Lanka in each of the past three such series, the most recent meeting being in January 2020.

– Sri Lanka have one win from their past 11 completed T20I matches against India (L10). The solitary triumph was achieved in March 2018 when the Lions beat the Men in Blue by five wickets at the very same venue this match is being played.

– Since the beginning of 2020, only 43 per cent of the runs scored by Sri Lanka in men's T20I matches have come via boundaries, the lowest rate for any team in that period.

– Dasun Shanaka has a batting dot ball rate of 48 per cent in T20I matches since the beginning of 2020. Only two players have a higher rate than the Sri Lankan (Chris Gayle at 53 per cent and Andre Fletcher at 51 per cent, minimum 100 balls faced).

– Bhuvneshwar Kumar needs five wickets to reach 50 in T20I action for India. He will become the fourth player to achieve this feat for his country, with his career-best figures seeing him take 5-24 against South Africa in 2018.

Related items

  • PSG's Pochettino understands Angers frustration after contentious Mbappe penalty PSG's Pochettino understands Angers frustration after contentious Mbappe penalty

    Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino said he understood Angers' frustration after a controversial late penalty gave the Ligue 1 leaders a 2-1 victory.

    PSG trailed following Angelo Fulgini's 36th-minute opener before Danilo Pereira's header, their first shot on target, levelled matters on Friday.

    It looked as if they would have to settle for a share of the spoils, but PSG were awarded a penalty after a VAR check for handball against Pierrick Capelle.

    Kylian Mbappe swept home from 12 yards in the 87th minute, with Angers left to fume.

    Romain Thomas felt he was fouled by PSG forward Mauro Icardi in the lead-up to the penalty incident.

    He told Prime Video: "It's incredible what's happened.

    "Losing 2-1 at the end, losing here isn't shameful, but [to lose] like that... no, it's not possible.

    "We worked all week to do something properly and the referees can't take the time to do theirs.

    "VAR... I'm starting to get tired of this story. Putting millions into something when you don't even know how to use it, it annoys me because I'm passionate, I'm dedicated.

    "At the start of the play, he [Icardi] pulled me on the arm, I fell and then he plays from that position for the penalty. So, I'm frustrated."

    Asked about Angers' complaints, Pochettino said: "It's difficult. I haven't seen the action footage yet. I couldn't see correctly whether there was a hand, a penalty or a foul ... I don't know. 

    "I understand Angers' feelings. I myself have often known these situations where the decisions are a little against us. But these are game situations."

    PSG have won 24 Ligue 1 games since the start of the Pochettino era in January 2021 (D2 L5) – at least four more than any other team over the period.

    Mbappe's penalty was his only shot on target from three attempts, his winner following his decisive goal in France's victory over Spain in the Nations League final.

    On Mbappe's performance, Pochettino added: "He is a player about whom we are full of praise. He has enormous qualities, especially that of being decisive when the team needs it."

    Mbappe has scored and delivered an assist in the same Ligue 1 game for only the third time in 2021, after January against Montpellier (two goals, one assist) and April at Strasbourg (one goal, one assist). He has been involved in 27 league goals for the year (20 goals, seven assists) – at least four more than any other player in the top flight.

    PSG are nine points clear at the top of Ligue 1, though they have played a game more than second-place Lens.

  • Saelemaekers delighted to continue Milan journey after penning new deal Saelemaekers delighted to continue Milan journey after penning new deal

    Alexis Saelemaekers is delighted to have pledged his long-term future to Milan, after penning a five-year contract with the Rossoneri.

    Saelemaerkers joined Milan from Anderlecht, initially on loan, in January 2020.

    Since then, he has made 52 appearances in Serie A, starting 38 times and helping Milan to 35 victories (only Franck Kessie, Theo Hernandez and Gianluigi Donnarumma have been involved in more league wins in that timeframe).

    He has created 44 chances, providing six league assists and scoring three goals.

    That form has seen him rewarded with a new deal, tying him to the San Siro until June 2026.

    "I'm happy to have grown with this team," Belgium international Saelemaekers told Milan's official website, before expanding on his official Instagram account.

    "Salamandra remains! I'm delighted to continue my story with this great club that has welcomed me and made me feel important immediately," a post read.

    "It's a wonderful emotion that I want to share with all the people who have accompanied me on this journey and in particular with all the Milan fans who are special.

    "I'm proud of my growth which has gone hand in hand with the team. Now, the target is always the same: work, grow and win!

    "Forza Milan God is Great!"

  • I arrived as a kid and left as a man – Vieira looking forward to Arsenal return but targets glory with Palace I arrived as a kid and left as a man – Vieira looking forward to Arsenal return but targets glory with Palace

    Patrick Vieira is anticipating an emotional reunion with Arsenal, but the Crystal Palace manager is out to beat his former club.

    Vieira spent nine years with Arsenal between 1996 and 2005, helping Arsene Wenger's side win three Premier League titles and four FA Cups before he left for Juventus.

    The 45-year-old made 279 Premier League appearances for Arsenal, with only five players making more for the club in the competition. In fact, Vieira will be just the fourth person to have played for the Gunners in the Premier League and then managed against them in the competition, after David O'Leary (W3 D2 L9), Tony Adams (L1) and Remi Garde (L1).

    He has never faced the Gunners as a coach, though did play against them twice, with Juve and Manchester City, but did not manage to win on either occasion.

    Vieira is out to change that record when Palace, who came from behind in impressive fashion to draw 2-2 with Leicester City before the international break, visit Emirates Stadium on Monday.

    "The focus and concentration will be on how can we perform well," said Vieira, who was just 20 when he joined Arsenal from Milan.

    "I am really looking forward to it. I had the chance to play for this football club [Arsenal] for nine years. I arrived at this football club when I was a kid and I left as a man.

    "That is the club where I played my best football I would say. So obviously going back there will be emotional, but I will put that on the side because it will be important for us to perform well and to get points.

    "It's about controlling yourself as a manager and controlling the emotion. I always try to do that and will try to do that again on Monday."

    Recent history of Palace's trips to Emirates Stadium would suggest Vieira has a good chance of breaking his duck against Arsenal, with the Eagles unbeaten in their last three such games (W1 D2).

    However, Arsenal have won their last seven league matches played on Monday, scoring 15 times and conceding just twice.

    Palace ended an 11-game winless run in Premier League London derbies when they beat Tottenham 3-0 last month, though Arsenal have won four of their last five top-flight home matches.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.