The Indian cricket team lost the second T20I of the 3-match series against Sri Lanka in a thrilling affair which saw mid-level batsmen Suryakumar Yadav and Axar Patel keep the team in pursuit of the 207-run target. India’s top order collapsed, putting immense pressure on the batting unit in the middle. While Suryakumar and Axar managed to keep India in the game for most of the match, some eyebrows were raised when debutant Rahul Tripathi stepped ahead of Suryakumar.
Playing in place of Sanju Samson, Tripathi was expected to take on the role of finisher in the team alongside Hardik Pandya and Axar Patel. But, he batted at a ‘more natural’ No. 3 spot, pushing Suryakumar down to fourth.
When India skipper Hardik was asked about this decision, he said: “Surya had a fantastic race at four. Rahul is used to playing at no. 3, and somebody coming in, we want to give him a role that he’s comfortable with. That’s why he hit at No. 3.”
Tripathi did not have a debut to remember. He was only able to score 5 runs out of 5 bowls in his first T20I outing for India.
Bowlers led by Kasun Rajitha held India to 190-8 despite a threatening 91-run sixth wicket stand between Suryakumar Yadav (51) and Axar Patel (65).
Captain Shanaka turned up with his medium-paced bowling for the 20th to send back Axar and Shivam Mavi, who hit 26 for 15 balls, and took the series to the decider on Saturday in Rajkot.
But it was Shanaka’s batting that set up the win as he stormed into the Indian attack with his fastest 20-ball fifty by a Sri Lankan batsman in the T20 format.
With AFP inputs
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