After India looked set to post 180 on the board, thanks to splendid thumps by Shikhar Dhawan and Suryakumar Yadav, the hosts retaliated fearlessly to limit the Men dressed in Blue to 164. With Yuzvendra Chahal getting back to his best, the Lankans neglected to convey, however, Asalanka pursued a solitary fight.
‘Captaining Rajasthan Royals has changed Sanju Samson the batsman totally, he’s at this point not reckless, he has fully grown, he’s the genuine article now.’ Well, these were a couple of the remarks via social media when the Kerala batsman, in the wake of crushing a six and a four each off Dananjaya’s bowling, began taking doubles and singles in the 6th over. Believe it or not, he has shown a more developed and composed version of himself since the second half of the current year’s IPL.
That was the case in the third ODI too, where the ‘reckless’ part of Sanju had broken up with him. So was the case in the T20I series opener as well, but that doesn’t change the fact that he hasn’t played that defining knock yet. And ultimately, that is what matters, given, in this gun batting line-up, there won’t be many chances knocking at his door.
Today, he was batting at 3 and had a lot of overs to leave behind a lasting impact, but all he could manage was another ‘promising’ 27. With just two T20Is left for India ahead of the WT20 and the likes of Ishan, Suryakumar, Pant, and Iyer ahead in the pecking order of the classy batsman, the promise would no longer suffice, and only impactful performances would.
Let’s admit it, we were all surprised when Yuzvendra Chahal was picked ahead of Rahul Chahar, especially after the latter delivered the finest bowling display by any Indian bowler in the ongoing tour in the third ODI. Chahar was the first-choice spinner in the second half of the England T20Is too, but the team management trusted Chahal against all the odds, and the RCB spinner delivered under pressure, to showcase his mettle.
He showed impeccable control over his bowling, with an ER of 4.80, and delivered 45.8% dot deliveries. He ended up with figures of 1/19. He was certainly up to the mark after the high bar set by Chahar.
Now, what changed for him? For starters, he wasn’t flat and bowling quick. He was bowling at the precise pace that was needed on the slow wicket and wasn’t afraid to flight the ball consistently. He was also varying his pace well, which kept the batters guessing. And the beauty he delivered to Dhananjaya de Silva was arguably the ball of the game.
It was slow, loopy, had the right amount of drift, and turned sharply with a great bounce to bamboozle de Silva. Even when Asalanka was in the middle of a brilliant knock, Chahal didn’t lose his effectiveness and beat him all ends up. It won’t be wrong to suggest that the champion leggie is finally back in fine form.
However, what was even more exhilarating was how Surya picked all those back-of-the-hand slower deliveries from seamers Isuru Udana and Chamika Karunaratne. Suryakumar Yadav continued his brilliant form from the ODIs to score a 34-ball 50, which was studded with five boundaries and two maximums. However, soon after scoring the half-century, he holed one out while trying to go the aerial route for quick runs.
Udana was dispatched with a conventional sweep shot for a boundary while Karunaratne was trudge cleared for a six. It was Surya’s energetic cameo that truly assisted Ishan Kishan and Hardik Pandya with dispatching the final assault.
The second match of the series will be played at a similar venue on July 27.