Sri Lanka hope for consolation win as India look for clean sweep in final T20I
The last time Sri Lanka defeated India in the shortest format was in 2014. Rajeshwari Gayakwad had just made her debut for India, and Vishmi Gunaratne, the new batting sensation from Sri Lanka, was just nine years old. A lot has changed since then for both teams, but the hosts would like to take inspiration from that series victory ahead of the final T20I of the three-match series in Dambulla.
What’s at stake?
Ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, starting from July 28, this is a golden opportunity for both teams to iron out their plans. These two teams are slated in separate groups at the Commonwealth Games, but their relatively inexperienced bowling units will get some more much-needed match experience in the final T20I. India will face the T20 World Cup Champions Australia and Barbados in Group A, while Sri Lanka has the likes of hosts England and South Africa in their group.
From the series perspective, India has the opportunity to seal their first clean sweep in a T20I series since 2019, when they defeated West Indies 5-0 in the Caribbean. India have already bagged their first series win since the West Indies tour, but they would like to take the T20I series’ winning momentum into the ODI series, which will determine their entry into the next 50-over World Cup.
Sri Lanka put a worthy fight against the runners-up of the T20I World Cup in the second T20I of the series. The opening partnership of 87 runs was the highlight of the Sri Lankan innings. Their characteristic collapse in the death overs hurt their chances of leveling the series. Sri Lanka would like to end the T20I leg on a high and take that momentum into the ODI Series.
Players to watch out for:
S Meghana: The right-handed batter impressed on her Women’s T20 Challenge debut for Trailblazers with a knock of 73 runs. She was equally impressive for Indian Railways in the Senior T20 tournament that preceded the T20 Challenge. Meghana showed her class in the second T20I when she smashed Udeshika Prabodhani for four fours in one over inside the powerplay. If she continues to get the opportunity in the top order, Meghana can cement that all-important number three spot as her own for India.
Vishmi Gunaratne: The 16-year-old played a vital role in the 2nd T20I for Sri Lanka with the bat. When her captain struggled to get going in the powerplay, Gunaratne stepped up to give her team a solid start. She is a young talent and Sri Lanka have trusted her with the responsibility of opening the innings. Even though she missed out on a well-deserved half-century, she is one to look out for in the future.
What they said:
Smriti Mandhana on India’s bowling unit:
“The bowling unit did a really good job in both matches. We didn’t have to tell them much, we just had to stick to our plans. We knew one or two wickets will help us get back in the game. I think, our bowlers were patient with it. A few misfields here and there but we will work hard for it and come back strong.”
Chamari Athapathuthu on Rashmi de Silva:
“Rashmi is our new legspinner. We needed a good legspinner in our ranks and she is one of them. She had a really good domestic season in Sri Lanka and I hope she does well in both formats.”
India made two changes in the second T20I, with Yastika Bhatia and Simran Dil Bahadur replacing Richa Ghosh and Rajeshwari Gayakwad. India would ideally like to give a chance to all the 15 members of their squad. For that reason, they might rest Renuka Singh Thakur and give Meghna Singh a go with the ball.
Sri Lanka’s captain Chamari Athapaththu has praised young legspinner, Rashmi de Silva, for her skills and good performance in the domestic season. Sri Lanka might look to accommodate the spinner in the final T20I.
Sri Lanka: Vishmi Gunaratne, Chamari Athapaththu (c), Nilakshi de Silva, Oshadi Ranasinghe, Harshitha Madavi, Kavisha Dilhari, Ama Kanchana, Anushka Sanjeewani (wk), Sugandika Kumari, Rashmi de Silva, Udeshika Prabodhani
India: Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, S Meghana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Yastika Bhatia (wk), Pooja Vastrakar, Deepti Sharma, Radha Yadav, Simran Dil Bahadur, Meghna Singh