Review | Sri Lanka vs India Series
Written By: Ritwika Dhar
Picture Courtesy: Google Images
Solid start for Harmanpreet Kaur the captain
The Indian team under the leadership of captain Kaur showcased some splendid all-round performance and commenced the new cycle of the Women’s Championship with a comprehensive 3-0 victory and 2-1 T20I series win. Captain Kaur was pretty impressive with the bat in her maiden assignment as a full-time captain after Mithali Raj hung her boots.
In the T20Is where she scored 92 runs playing at no. 4. On the other hand, in the ODIs she even bettered her performance by scoring 119 runs including a fifty, and averaged 59.50. And she also surpassed her highest-ever ODI run tally of 505 runs in 2017 and accumulated 533* runs this year so far. She also became the 2nd Indian batter after Mithali Raj to score 3000 ODI runs. And it can surely be said that she is going through the form of her life and her captaincy was complemented by the sublime form that she is carrying forward since the 50-over World Cup. And her being the best Indian player against spin helped her to showcase her fullest potential in Sri Lanka’s spin-friendly conditions.
Resurgence of Rodrigues
For almost 6 months, Rodrigues was out of the Indian team. But she was continuously performing in the domestic T20s and WT20 Challenge and finally cut into the Indian squad. And in the 1st T20I itself, she played a brilliant hand of 36* off 27 to tale her team to a respectable total. On the spin-friendly track of Dambulla, she played in a strike rate of 133.33. In the T20I series overall, she scored 72 runs in those 3 matches batting at no. 5. But India needs to play her up the order and need to be included in the 50 overs as well. She's the most adaptive batter in the Indian batting line-up and can keep ticking the scoreboard which is needed in the middle overs where fielders are spread out.
The drastic improvement in Shafali
Shafali’s drastic improvement in fitness visibly impacted a lot in her batting, fielding, and her newly added skill, part-time off-spin bowling. She has been able to maneuver the field and rotate the strikes well. Previously, she used to be mostly reliant on the big shots and if she didn’t get one for a long time, she used to throw her wicket by playing a rash shot. But now she has added some more scoring shots to her repertoire which is helping her to play on every surface in every format more freely. In the ODI series, she was the highest run-getter with 155 runs including a blistering 71* in the 2nd ODI which helped India to register a 10-wicket victory and an ODI series win after almost 2 years.
In the absence of Jhulan, the Indian pace bowling attack is shaping up all
In the absence of the legendary fast-bowler Goswami and experienced Shikha Pandey, the relatively new pacers into the set-up - Meghna Singh, Pooja Vastrakar and Renuka Singh have cemented their spots in the playing XI. Despite playing in Sri Lanka’s spin-friendly conditions, fast bowlers adapted well and even overshadowed the experienced Indian spin line-up. In the T20Is where spinners Radha Yadav and Deepti Sharma dominated, pacers showed their true colors in the ODIs. Renuka was the highest wicket-taker with 7 wickets with a brilliant economy of 3.75 and Meghna and Pooja took 4 wickets each under the economy of 5. It is a great sign for India that the pacers are settling down and will be having some good performance under their belt before heading to England for CWG. India also have pacer Simran Dil Bahadur who bowls wicket-to-wicket which is ideal for T20Is and a very handy batter as well.
The middle muddle continues to worry Team India
India have ticked a lot of boxes before heading into the CWG. But the fragile middle-order is still a big concern for Team India. India right now facing the problem of plenty of top-order batters and lacking genuine middle and lower-order hitters. With so many options in S. Meghana, Rodrigues, Deol, and Yastika, all who open for their state teams are now fighting for no. 3, 4, and 5. And opener Smriti Mandhana and finisher Richa Ghosh’s hot and cold form only added more headaches to the Indian management. With Richa's off-form, India are now handing the keeping gloves to Yastika who has also done a decent job behind the stumps in this series.
But reasons for this middle muddle are- the lack of flexibility or adaptability which reduces these batters' effectiveness down the order. Also, the lack of role-specific selection is what makes the concerns deeper. The big hitters down the order like Dayalan Hemalatha, Sneh Rana, Swagatika Rath, and Rubia Syed have been ignored, the underuse of Vastrakar's batting and bowling might not cause much damage against the cricket-starved Sri Lankan side but sides like Australia, England are going to exploit them.
Sri Lanka are slowly but surely overcoming the Athapaththu dependency
Despite losing both the series on their home soil, they fought hard and didn't give any freebies to the Indians. It was one of the close-contested series that Sri Lanka played against any team in the recent past. But these close results weren't the only positive output for the Lankan team. We all know the gulf in quality and ability the Sri Lankan team have between their captain Athapaththu and the rest of the team. She has the experience of playing in every T20 league across the globe and is one of the most established players in world cricket at the moment. But the highlight of this series has to be how the many SL players have risen to the occasions other than her.
Players like 16-year-old Vishmi Gunaratne, Nilakshi de Silva with the bat, Inoka Ranweera, and Oshadi Ranasinghe with the ball starred multiple times in this series for Sri Lanka. When Athapaththu wasn't at her best, couldn't convert her good starts into big knocks except in the 3rd T20I where she brought the only victory from this series for her team with her hammering 80*, other players chipped in with valuable contributions is a positive sign ahead of the CWG.
India's chances of a CWG medal
Indian players got a good game time before being part of the Indian contingent and flying over to England. Indian team need a settled batting line-up and variety in bowling. And leaving out India's top leg-spinner Poonam, the no. 1 keeper-batter for India till the World Cup Ghosh and pace all-rounder in the making Bahadur in reserves can affect them despite picking up a good side. Also, India's sloppiness in fielding has been a constant concern for the Indian team. But Sneh Rana's inclusion is one of the positive things that came out from the selection after missing out on the Sri Lanka series. India will be relying on their all-rounders Rana, Sharma, and Vastrakar heavily.
If the top guns fire and fast bowlers get their rhythm on the given day, the Indian team can surely finish on the podium in their maiden CWG appearance. Group A is also relatively easier than Group B which speaks more about India being in the medal contention.
Indian Squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (C), Smriti Mandhana (VC), Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Sabbhineni Meghana, Yastika Bhatia (wk), Taniya Bhatia (wk), Pooja Vastrakar, Meghna Singh, Renuka Singh Thakur, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Deepti Sharma, Radha Yadav, Harleen Deol, Sneh Rana.
Standby: Simran Dil Bahadur, Richa Ghosh, Poonam Yadav
Brief scores of every match of the series
1st T20I: IND won by 34 runs | POTM- Jemimah Rodrigues
India – 138/6 (20) J. Rodrigues 36* (27), S. Verma 31 (31); I. Ranaweera 3/30 (4), O. Ranasinghe 2/22 (3)
Sri Lanka – 104/5 (20) K. Dilhari 47* (49), C. Athapaththu 16 (19); R. Yadav 3/30 (4), O. Ranasinghe 2/22 (3)
2nd T20I: IND won by 5 wickets | POTM – Harmanpreet Kaur
Sri Lanka – 125/7 (20) V. Gunaratne 45 (50), C. Athapaththu 43 (41); D. Sharma 2/34 (4), H. Kaur 1/12 (3)
India – 127/5 (19.1) S. Mandhana 39 (34), H. Kaur 31 (32); I. Ranaweera 2/18 (4), O. Ranasinghe 2/32 (4)
3rd T20I: SL won by 7 wickets | POTM – C. Athapaththu | POTS – H. Kaur
India – 138/5 (20) H. Kaur 39 (33), J. Rodrigues 33 (30); O. Ranasinghe 1/13 (3), A. Kanchana 1/22 (4)
Sri Lanka – 141/3 (17) C. Athapaththu 80* (48), N. de Silva 30 (28); R. Singh 1/27 (4), R. Yadav 1/41 (4)
1st ODI: IND won by 4 wickets | POTM – Deepti Sharma
Sri Lanka – 171 (48.2) N. de Silva 43 (63), H. Perera 37 (54); D. Sharma 3/25 (8.2), R. Singh 3/29 (6)
India – 176/6 (38) H. Kaur 44 (63), S. Verma 35 (40); I. Ranaweera 4/39 (10), O. Ranasinghe 2/34 (8)
2nd ODI: Ind won by 10 wickets | POTM – Renuka Singh
Sri Lanka – 173 (50) A. Kanchana 47* (83), N. de Silva 32 (62); R. Singh 4/28 (10), D. Sharma 2/30 (10)
India – 174/0 (25.4) S. Mandhana 94* (83), S. Verma 71* (71); A. Kulasuriya 0/24 (5), K. Dilhari 0/18 (3)
3rd ODI: IND won by 39 runs | POTM – H. Kaur | POTS – H. Kaur
India – 255/9 (50) H. Kaur 75 (88), P. Vastrakar 56* (65); I. Ranaweera 2/22 (10), C. Athpaththu 2/45 (8)
Sri Lanka – 216 (47.3) N. de Silva 48* (59), C. Athapaththu 44 (41); R. Gayakwad 3/36 (10), M. Singh 2/32 (7)