Several eyebrows went up when India lost the second T20 International by 16 runs to Sri Lanka in Pune. The likes of Arshdeep Singh and Shivam Mavi were inconsistent with their lines and lengths and conceded too many extras. It was one of the causes for India's first defeat of the New Year. (More Cricket News)
With that said, the team is young and capable.
Here are some crucial points that Team India and skipper Hardik Pandya must look at in the crucial third T20I in Rajkot on Saturday.
1) Bring A Check On No Balls
Arshdeep Singh bowled five no-balls - the joint most by any bowler from a Full Member side in a T20I and most by an Indian bowler. As a result, the left-arm quickie bowled just two overs and conceded 37 runs at an economy rate of 18.50 per over. Pandya said later that the Indian bowling wasn't upto the standards as he blamed the no-balls for the runs conceded. "It is not about blaming him or to be too hard on him, but we know no-balls in any format is a crime," Pandya stated in his post-match presser.
2) Top-order Needs To Fire
The past two T20Is have seen Indian openers Shubman Gill and Ishan Kishan not firing on all cylinders. Gill who is making his T20I debut in this series, has scores of 7 and 5 whereas Ishan Kishan was out early in Pune. With the openers misfiring, the onus then comes on the middle-order and the likes of Suryakumar Yadav and Axar Patel have too much to do as it was seen in the second T20I.
3) Test The Bench Strength
Maharashtra's Ruturaj Gaikwad was one of the standouts of the recent Vijay Hazare Trophy, which earned him an India call-up. Though Maharashtra lost the Vijay Hazare Trophy final to Saurashtra, Gaikwad scored a brilliant 108 in the final, in addition to exploits earlier in the tournament. With the top-order rusty, the Indian team could now test their bench strength.
4) Stabilise The Batting Positions
In the second T20I, we saw debutant Rahul Tripathi get a chance to bat at number three. It did not end well for the batter. Tripathi was out for five runs as the Sri Lankan bowlers ran through India's batting before Axar Patel and Suryakumar Yadav rescued the innings. "Surya had a fantastic run at four. Rahul is accustomed to playing at no. 3, and someone coming in, we want to give them a role they are comfortable with. That's why he batted at No. 3," Hardik replied when quizzed why SKY was sent at four. Inconsistent positions could harm the batting order and the team management must take a measured call before the Rajkot T20I.
India: Hardik Pandya (C), Ishan Kishan (wk), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shubman Gill, Suryakumar Yadav (VC), Deepak Hooda, Rahul Tripathi, Jitesh Sharma, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Arshdeep Singh, Harshal Patel, Umran Malik, Shivam Mavi and Mukesh Kumar.
Sri Lanka: Dasun Shanaka (C), Pathum Nissanka, Avishka Fernando, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Kusal Mendis, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Wanindu Hasaranga, Ashen Bandara, Maheesh Theekshana, Chamika Karunaratne, Dilshan Madushanka, Kasun Rajitha, Dunith Wellalage, Pramod Madushan, Lahiru Kumara and Nuwan Thushara.