Heroic efforts by Axar Patel and Suryakumar Yadav are in vain as SL defeats India by 16 runs to even the series

Jan 6, 2023

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Surya’s departure in the 16th over made the task difficult, but Axar and Shivam Mavi (26 off 15) quickly shared 41 runs to reduce the situation to 21 runs needed off the last over.

In a spectacular 91-run stand, Suryakumar Yadav and Axar Patel each scored a scorching fifty, but it was all in vain as Sri Lanka tightened the screws just in time to defeat India by 16 runs in the second T20I and knot the three-match series 1-1 on Thursday in Pune. 

Sri Lanka reached an impressive 206 for 6 thanks to wicketkeeper Kusal Mendis’ 31-ball 52 and captain Dasun Shanaka’s outstanding rearguard score of 56 from 22 balls. India’s chase got off to a nightmare start when they fell to 57 for 5 until Axar (65 off 31) and Surya (51 off 36) ignited hopes for an unlikely victory with an electrifying sixth-wicket stand.

Surya’s departure in the 16th over made the task difficult, but Axar and Shivam Mavi (26 off 15) quickly shared 41 runs to reduce the situation to 21 runs needed off the last over.

The final straw for India, though, was Axar’s dismissal on the third ball of the penultimate over.

India lost its two openers, Ishan Kishan and Shubman Gill, to Kasun Rajitha in the second over as they tried to reach the target.

If that wasn’t enough, rookie Rahul Tripathi snuck one past skipper Hardik Pandya off Dilshan Madhushanaka in the following over, and India collapsed to 34 for 4 in just 4.4 overs.

With a valiant 23-run partnership, Deepak Hooda and Surya attempted to steady the innings. However, as the asking rate increased, Hooda left in pursuit of a huge shot and was caught by Dhananjaya de Silva off Hasarnaga de Silva as India lost half of their team for 57. After a disappointing start, Surya and Axar attempted to boost the ante with a spectacular 91-run sixth-wicket stand off just 40 balls.

Off-spinner Maheesh Theekshana was specifically targeted by Axar, who hit him for a four and a six over long-on in the 13th over.

Axar’s aggression was not limited to Theekshana; in the 14th over, the left-hander hit the bowler for a hat-trick of sixes, forcing Hasaranga de Silva to take the brunt of it.

After only 20 balls, Axar reached his first fifty by hitting a six from Karunaratne over long off.

Surya then made a magnificent fifty with a six off an overhand square-leg off Madhushanaka.

It was not to be as the guests pulled the strings just in time to tie the series, despite the duo raising hopes of a historic victory.

Prior to it, the Indian bowlers gave a dismal performance after choosing to field since the Lankan batters started out strong. All Indian bowlers except Axar (2/24 from his 4 overs) were chased.

Despite taking three wickets, speedster Umar Malik (3/48) was also thoroughly outplayed, while match-winning player Mavi (0/53) appeared to be a pale imitation of his former self.

In the second over, Arshdeep Singh let up 19 runs, including two consecutive no-balls that resulted in 17 runs.

From his second over, Hardik scored 11 runs as well after Mendis top-edged one over deep third man.

In his first over, which resulted in 15 runs, Mendis also humiliated Mavi.

Axar and Yuzvendra Chahal (1/30), a spin pair, provided relief for two overs before Pathum Nisanka (33) hit a huge six over deep midwicket. India’s first success came in the ninth over when Chahal got Mendis LBW following a successful review from Hardik.

When Malik cleaned Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s stumps with the opening delivery of the following over, he dealt Sri Lanka its second blow.

Sri Lanka managed to post a respectable score of 89 at the halfway point despite losing two wickets.

However, Axar quickly saw success when he fired Nissanka after Tripathy captured him. In his subsequent over, he caught his second victim of the day when Hooda caught Dhananjaya de Silva at long on.

In two consecutive deliveries, Charith Asalanka (37) despatched Chahal over deep midwicket while appearing menacing.

Aslanka then hit a brief delivery from Malik for another six, but the bowler got the last laugh when, three balls later, he had the hitter caught by Gill off an identical delivery in his subsequent over.

A ball later, Malik struck Wanindu Hasaranga with a quick delivery to knock him off the feet and give himself a chance for a hat-trick.

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Malik’s day, however, was not to be; Sri Lankan captain Shanaka pushed the bowler over his head for a one-bounce four.

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