Hello and welcome to the live blog of the third T20I between India and Sri Lanka in Pune. Guwahati was a disappointment, Indore was a cake-walk for India and Pune presents another challenge for the visitors. Will they bounce back? Well, don’t get your hopes up just yet.
There could have been no time more suitable to label Sri Lanka ‘unpredictable’. A second-string team found new heroes as they blanked world no. 1 ranked Pakistan in their own backyard barely three months ago but since then, Sri Lanka have drawn blanks in Australia and India. After four rather comprehensive T20I defeats on the trot, the team in transition would like a validation in the form of a victory in the Pune decider that’ll help them return home with not just a drawn series but also at least a few key pieces to their T20 puzzle.
Sri Lanka’s batting problems are elementary and injuries have thrown their bowling combinations out of whack. Their underwhelming batting in some of the most batsmen-friendly conditions in Indore should be alarming for a team that has to take the Qualifiers route to the T20 World Cup that’s due in eight months’ time. The slow down in the middle overs showed that their batting order and batting plans are both still a work in progress. Luckily, though, they have that Qualifiers road which means more game time and, hence, more opportunities to refine their batting in which Angelo Mathews – back in T20I fold after 16 months – could play a key role.
In their bid to avoid a fifth straight T20I loss – and second successive series defeat – Sri Lanka wouldn’t need a bigger motivation than their last outing on this ground when they pinned an MS Dhoni-led India on the mat, wrapping them up for 101 to take early lead in the 2016 series. Moreover, India have lost one T20I in each of their last three home series, and Sri Lanka wouldn’t want that run to end with them.
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