India heads into the match on the back of a thrilling win in the series opener
India heads into the match on the back of a thrilling win in the series opener

INDIA EYES SERIES TRIUMPH

Hardik’s team takes on Sri Lanka in second T20I

PUNE: Shubman Gill will aim to make the most of the powerplay and keep his nearest competitor Ruturaj Gaikwad at bay as the India team will look to come out all guns blazing against Sri Lanka in its bid to clinch the series in the second T20I here on Thursday.

India won a last-ball thriller by two runs in the series opener at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai while defending a below-par score and skipper Hardik Pandya spoke about the benefits of overcoming difficult situations as the team moves forward.

While T20Is are not high on the priority list in an ODI World Cup year, Gill will not like to repeat the mistakes of his predecessors while aiming to cement his place in the T20I side. Gill, an important member of the Gujarat Titans top-order in its victorious Indian Premier League 2022 campaign, is known to shift gears only after laying a foundation.

But, he may be expected to deliver a free-flowing brand of cricket from the start as talented players such as Ruturaj and the uncapped Rahul Tripathi are waiting in the wings for an opportunity. With Gill and Ishan Kishan now expected to open the batting in all three matches, an impactful powerplay will help the cause of the middle-order batters.

A lot could also depend on how new vice-captain Suryakumar Yadav does what is known as “front-loading” (heavy hitting in the first 10 overs) in cricketing jargon. After a rare failure in the first match, Suryakumar, the smart operator that he is, will find a way to dominate the Sri Lanka bowling attack, which depends a lot on its spinners Wanindu Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana.

Deepak Hooda and Axar Patel’s batting efforts in the previous game were lauded by one and all and their utility is there to be seen. Pacer Shivam Mavi’s dream debut is certainly a big relief for Hardik, who could be appreciated for taking the new ball and bowling an incisive first spell alongside the newcomer.

Mavi (4/22), with his ability to swing the ball, and speedster Umran Malik (2/27) are welcome additions to the team. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka, which went down fighting last time around, would hope to keep the series alive.

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