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Sri Lanka chased 174 in 19.5 overs on Tuesday to edge India by 5 wickets in a thriller. With this victory, Sri Lanka qualified for the final of the Asian Cup 2022, while India are almost eliminated from the tournament. The task of reaching the final seems almost unlikely as India will not only have to win their next game against Afghanistan, but also hope that Sri Lanka and Afghanistan will fare better than Pakistan.
The New Indian examines the five factors that led to India’s loss to Sri Lanka:
1) Atrocious team selection: India surprisingly didn’t choose leg spinner Ravi Bishnoi in the XI even after he became the team’s best bowler in the last game against Pakistan. Bishnoi conceded just 26 runs in his four overs and pitched convincingly. The decision to leave him outside was disconcerting.
The biggest mistake was including Deepak Hooda against Dinesh Karthik for the second game in a row. Karthik has been in creditable form in the T20Is after finishing a handful of matches with his searing cameos.
The reason for choosing Hooda over Karthik was that Hooda is versatile. But he didn’t bowl a single one in both games, even when some of the main bowlers were carried. On top of that, he failed badly with the bat in both games and couldn’t score any quick runs in the deathmatches. This particular mistake may have cost India the game and the tournament.
2) The top 3 problem in the batting lineup: Over the past few weeks, The New Indian fervently argued that India cannot afford to have Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli in the top 3 of T20I. This is not to denigrate their pedigree, but it is the harsh reality. KL Rahul and Virat Kohli are not in stellar form and more importantly, both are not power hitters. India needs at least one power hitter in the top 3 who can attack the bowlers from the start.
Rahul has not only failed to make runs in this tournament, but his strike rate is embarrassing. Even on Tuesday, Kohli and Rahul flattered to cheat.
3) Toothless lower middle order: India scored just 45 runs in the last 5 overs against Sri Lanka and missed a big tally. A similar thing also happened against Pakistan. The truth is that while India’s middle order is sturdy, its lower middle order and tail are toothless. The problem was exacerbated by the inexplicable absence of Karthik and the unavailability of Ravindra Jadeja, who was injured.
Deepak Hooda is now fit and should be included in the T20I squad. Not only is he a resourceful T20I bowler, but he can also club some big shots. His inclusion will bring more balance to the team.
4) The uneven form of Bhuvneshwar: Bhuvneshwar has long been one of India’s most trusted T20I setters. But his ability to bowl piercingly while undead took a beating. In the game against Pakistan, he was looted for 19 runs in the 19th, and on Tuesday the Sri Lankan batters had 14 runs in the 19th on which he beat. In these two games, Arshdeep Singh only had to defend 7 points in the last over, which was too little.
5) Sparkling Show of Sri Lanka Openers: Chasing 174 down this track was no walk in the park, but the Sri Lankan openers – Pathum Nissanka and Kusal Mendis – were unfazed by the pressure of the chase. Both hitters didn’t fire their shots and hit with startling audacity. In the Powerplay – the first six overs – Sri Lanka scored 57-0 and were cantering forward.
The two rolled on luck as many times as the top edges fell into no man’s land or raced to the limit. But it was a case of fortune favoring the brave. They cut, cut and swept with ferocity and conjured up a stand of 97 for the first wicket. Although the innings faltered a bit after they left, the gigantic opening partnership allowed Sri Lanka to finally seal the thriller.