In two successive games, India failed to defend decent totals at the Asia Cup and are on the brink of exit from the Super 4 Stage of the continental event. After failing to defend 181/7 against Pakistan on Sunday, they again faltered while defending 173/8 against Sri Lanka on Tuesday night. In the game against Pakistan, India’s Bhuvneshwar Kumar conceded 19 runs in the 19th over. In the game against Sri Lanka, he conceded 14 runs in the 19th over. Both the performances, dealt a major blow to India’s chances in the respective games.
Analysing the loss to Sri Lanka, former Indian cricket team coach Ravi Shastri said the Indian squad was short of at least one more quality pacer. While Jasprit Bumrah did not feature in the Asia Cup due to injury, Mohammed Shami was not picked.
“When you need to win, you got to prepare better. I think the selection could have been better, especially for the fast bowlers, you know the conditions here. There wasn’t much for the spinner. I was quite surprised that you came here with just 4 fast bowlers. You needed that extra one. Someone like Mohammed Shami sitting at home and cooling his heels, baffles me. After the IPL he had, for him not to be able to make the cut is, obviously, I am seeing something different,” Ravi Shastri said on Star Sports.
Once Shastri gave his take, former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram said: “Does the coach have input in selecting the team?” To this, the former Team India head coach replied: “He does, but he is not part of the selection. He can only contribute by saying ‘this is the combination we want’, then it is up to the captain in the meeting to take that forward.”
“There should have been one extra fast bowler. One spinner less in the 15-16. You don’t want to be caught in a situation where one guy has a fever and then you have no one else to play with. You have to play another spinner which can be embarrassing in the end,” he stated further.
In the match, chasing what looked like a par score at the innings break, the Sri Lankans were off to a blazing start with openers Kusal Mendis (57 off 37 balls) and Pathum Nissanka (52 off 37 balls) putting on 91 runs at a brisk rate.
The fifty was up in the sixth over with both batters regularly finding the gaps and the boundaries with consummate ease, putting tremendous pressure on the Indian bowling attack that looked clueless against the positive approach adopted by the two Lankan batters.
However, leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal had other ideas as he struck twice in the 12th over to put the brakes on Sri Lanka’s march.
Ravichandran Ashwin sent back Danushka Gunathilaka (1) to leave Sri Lanka in a spot of bother at 110 for three in the 14th over.
In the first ball of the next over, Sri Lanka suffered a body blow as Chahal got the big wicket of Mendis, who was trapped lbw in front of the wicket.
But Sri Lanka skipper Dasun Shanaka and (33 not out) and Bhanuka Rajapaksa (25 not out) remained till the end to complete the task for their team with a match-winning, fifth-wicket partnership of 64 runs.
With PTI inputs
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