Dinesh Karthik, Washington Sundar big India gains; few positives for SL, Bangladesh
Dinesh Karthik and Washington Sundar were the big gains for the inexperienced title-winning Indian cricket team while there were some moments to sparkle for both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.cricket Updated: Mar 19, 2018 19:46 IST
When the dates of the Nidahas Trophy 2018 tri-series between India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka were announced, the reception ranged from lukewarm to indifference. The high frequency of India vs Sri Lanka matches has reached a point of monotony. With India’s big names like MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah giving the tournament a miss, the inexperienced Indian cricket team did not appeal to the Sri Lankan fans. (IND v BAN HIGHLIGHTS)
However, during the 15-day tournament, Rohit Sharma’s side was strong enough to beat teams in their own conditions. The side had experience of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in addition to four-five fresh faces who had done well in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, was on the way upwards under Chandika Hathurusingha while Bangladesh were still volatile yet competitive. (IND v BAN SCORECARD)
India clinical with minor hiccups
India were jolted in the opening game when they lost to Sri Lanka by five wickets. Following the jolt and with a scrappy fielding performance against Bangladesh, questions were raised. Shikhar Dhawan set the tournament on fire with knocks of 90 and 55 but Rohit and Suresh Raina failed. With the middle order not getting exposure, India’s supposed weak link was the batting.
In the next three games, India ticked all the boxes. Dinesh Karthik and Manish Pandey shared a match-winning partnership against Sri Lanka while Rohit and Raina got back to form against Bangladesh. In the final, Rohit hit his 14th fifty but Karthik showed his mettle with his eight-ball 29 to help India seal the title in dramatic fashion.
Karthik’s contributions in the games against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have shown that he can be considered as India’s next finisher if they have to look at life beyond MS Dhoni. However, the tournament brought to the fore the bowling bench strength of India, especially Washington Sundar.
The 18-year-old Tamil Nadu offspinner was the star for India, becoming the leading wicket-taker in the series with eight scalps. The remarkable aspect was that six of his eight wickets came during the powerplay period. His economy rate of 5.7 is testimony to his skill in a period where batsmen dominate. With Shardul Thakur’s death over variations and Yuzvendra Chahal’s guile, India’s bowling bench strength is in good hands. However, the contributions of Karthik and Sundar have been the stand-out factor. When the Indian Premier League begins on April 7, Karthik and Sundar will be vital members of their franchise Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore, respectively.
Kusal duo shines but Sri Lanka flounder
Kusal Perera and Kusal Mendis were the stars for Sri Lanka, contributing in every game. While Kusal Perera hit three fifties in four games, Mendis hit two fifties to give the Sri Lanka top order stability. However, the rest of the batsmen failed to contribute. Akila Dananjaya, their star spinner, failed in the first two games but bounced back. The hosts’ bowling was their major weak link, with all of them having an economy rate of over nine.
They showed spark, they showed aggression, they showed determination and, at times, desperation to win. Bangladesh’s two remarkable victories over Sri Lanka demonstrated the above-mentioned factors. Mushfiqur Rahim’s brilliance and determination helped Bangladesh achieve the fourth-highest successful chase in Twenty20s when they chased down 215. Ugly scenes following Mahmudullah’s second-last ball six. It showed the team in a very poor light. However, their determination to win was evident in the 38 overs of the final against India before it was shattered in spectacular style by Karthik’s cameo.
To sum up the tournament, it began with a twist, meandered through the next two games, burst into life in the two Sri Lanka versus Bangladesh games and ended with a thriller thanks to Karthik’s brilliance.