Shreyas Iyer again on fire as India seal 3-0 T20 series sweep versus Sri Lanka
The batter hit his third consecutive unbeaten half-century as India won by six wickets, registering their 12th straight T20 win to equal Afghanistan's record
Back-to-back games are a rarity even in international cricket’s cramped calendar, but Shreyas Iyer didn’t seem to mind going by his exploits over the weekend against Sri Lanka. Iyer backed up his 74* off 44 balls in the second T20I on Saturday with a near identical score—an unbeaten 73 off 45 balls—in the final game on Sunday.
India sealed a six-wicket victory, gunning down a target of 147 with 19 balls to spare.
Iyer’s third consecutive half-century—57*, 74* and 73*--with nine fours and a six helped the hosts wrap up a 3-0 sweep over Sri Lanka. It was India’s 12th T20I win in a row, equaling the record held by Afghanistan.
The 27-year-old's effort again took the spotlight away from Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka, who scored 74 not out off 38 balls (9x4, 2x6). Shanaka was equally impressive in his 19-ball 47* 24 hours earlier.
After a sedate start to the chase—India were 13/1 after three overs with skipper Rohit Sharma dismissed—Iyer got things going with three fours in the fourth over. He pre-empted Lahiru Kumara’s lengths and had an answer for whatever the pacer offered.
The gaps in the outfield were precisely mapped in Iyer’s brain for he seldom found the fielder while attacking. His half-century came off 29 balls, skipping down the track and launching a flighted delivery by leg-spinner Jeffrey Vandersay over long-on for his lone six.
The circumstances of Shanaka’s innings were very different. The 30-year-old stepped up in the face of adversity after the visitors were reduced to 29/4 and 60/5. The only meaningful collaboration was an unbeaten 86-run stand with Chamika Karunaratne for the sixth wicket. But the latter’s contribution was limited to 12 runs off 19. For the second successive night, Shanaka spared none of the Indian bowlers at the death as 56 runs came from the final four overs.
Such late assaults won’t do Sri Lanka any good though until they start clicking collectively as a batting unit. With the series already in the bag, India made a raft of changes to the line-up, resting Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah. Mohammed Siraj and Avesh Khan came in and immediately made their presence felt. The left-handed Danushka Gunathilaka pulled a short delivery onto his stumps to fall for a first-ball duck in the opening over by Siraj.
Playing just his second T20I, Khan had his first international wicket when Pathum Nissanka’s attempt to clear the infield went awry. Nissanka had made 75 in the second T20I, but was out for 1 off 10 balls.
By the end of Khan's second over, he also dismissed Charith Asalanka as another big shot travelled high in the air without getting the necessary distance. Khan’s figures read 3-1-4-2 after his first spell.
Sharma stuck with Siraj and Khan till the end of the powerplay as Sri Lanka limped to 18/3, but there seemed to be no respite for the visitors. Buoyed by an impressive debut series against West Indies, leggie Ravi Bishnoi took just three balls to get into the act. He breached Janith Liyanage’s brittle defence with a fast googly, leaving the 26-year-old batter clueless.
The experienced Dinesh Chandimal fared no better. He gave Harshal Patel his only wicket of the night, smashing a short and wide delivery to Venkatesh Iyer at backward point. It left Shanaka with too much to do.