MS Dhoni (R) and YUzvendra Chahal    AFP
MS Dhoni (R) and YUzvendra Chahal AFP

MS Dhoni is an excellent reader of the game. In addition, his inputs are priceless for the bowlers, especially spinners. The first T20I between India and Sri Lanka was an exemplary example of mentor-prot g relationship as Dhoni’s guidance and Yuzvendra Chahal‘s spin web trapped Sri Lanka to 87 at Cuttack India’s biggest margin of victory in terms of runs in T20Is.

Electing to bowl, Sri Lanka got rid of Rohit Sharma soon. The Indian skipper the sixth to lead India in T20Is joined the elusive 1,500-run club along with Virat Kohli. However, he threw his scalp trying to go overboard too early in the match. KL Rahul, auditioning hard to open in South Africa, took the responsibility and held the ship before falling for 61.

Rahul’s innings was a fine example of timing, finding the gaps and switching gears swiftly. Just when he was looking set for a big knock, his stumps were dismantled by skipper Thisara Perera. The rest of the innings was held together by Manish Pandey and Dhoni. While the latter was a tad bit slow to start off, Pandey began the onslaught. Dhoni joined in, and finished the innings for the umpteenth time with a huge six. As a result, India finished at 180 for 3.

Sri Lanka were never in the chase. They had the assistance of dew in abundance, but their batsmen failed to apply themselves. Niroshan Dickwella threw his wicket away, trying to clear the inner circle for 13. Jaydev Unadkat’s change in pace helped in dismissing the left-hander. Upul Tharanga got off to a start yet again. Picking Chahal’s flighted delivery through sweeps, he looked threatening. Tharanga, however, got dismissed in the same over, trying to play the same shot. Chahal should also be credited for inviting Tharanga to play the same shot and foxing him.

Chahal gained momentum from thereon. He read what batsmen were trying to do. He kept it simple and welcomed the aerial shots. In addition, he continued to deceive Angelo Mathews and got rid of him by virtue of a simple return catch. Sri Lanka were down and out with two of their power hitters Asela Gunaratne and Thisara out stumped. Asela was somewhat unlucky: it wasn’t a clear dismissal off Dhoni’s gloves. Thisara, on the other hand, was miles outside the crease.

Kuldeep Yadav removed Kusal Perera and Dasun Shanaka. Hardik Pandya, on the other hand, capitalised the situation and rocked the lower order. He returned figures of 3 for 29.

Do You Know?

– This is India’s biggest victory in terms of runs in T20Is.

– Chahal surpassed Rashid Khan and Kerserk Williams to lead the wicket-takers’ chart in T20Is in the calendar year.

– Dhoni has most dismissals in T20Is, surpassing AB de Villiers (72).

Brief scores

India 180 for 3 in 20 overs (KL Rahul 61, Shreyas Iyer 24, MS Dhoni 39*, Manish Pandey 33*; Angelo Mathews 1 for 19, Akila Dananjaya 0 for 30) beat Sri Lanka 87 in 16 overs (Upul Tharanga 23, Kusal Perera 19, Niroshan Dickwella 13; Yuzvendra Chahal 4 for 23, Hardik Pandya 3 for 29) by 93 runs.