India and Sri Lanka played out a thriller when they locked horns in the second T20I at Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune on Thursday. The Islanders managed to claim a 16-run victory in a high-scoring contest and level the three-match series 1-1.
The tourists posted a massive 206/6 on the board after being asked to bat first. The Lankans were looking comfortable to register a one-sided win after claiming five wickets of the hosts for just 57 runs at the halfway stage.
However, the counter-attack from Suryakumar Yadav and Axar Patel derailed Sri Lanka’s hopes of finishing the proceedings early as the contest went down to the wire. Both Surya and Axar smashed aggressive half-centuries, forming a quickfire 91 runs partnership for the sixth wicket to bring back India in the game. But the visitors kept their nerves and dismissed the duo to bag a series-levelling win.
Lankan skipper Dasun Shanaka led his side from the front with both bat and the ball. The 31-year-old came to bat when the tourists were four down for 110 with only six overs left in the innings. Shanaka took charge right from the word go and accelerated the run-flow with splendid hitting. He scored an unbeaten 56 at a jaw-dropping strike rate of 254.55, laced up with 6 sixes and a couple of fours.
The Negombo-born then came to bowl the final over of India’s chase when the hosts needed 21 to win with Axar and Shivam Mavi on the crease. Shanaka, who didn’t bowl a single over throughout the match, conceded only four runs and picked up two wickets, including of Axar, to set up a series decider in Rajkot on Sunday.
Seeing the all-round display from the Sri Lankan skipper, many fans and experts lavished praise, including legendary cricketer Lasith Malinga. The former Islander termed Shanaka as one of the finest finisher of the game and reckoned the all-rounder would soon get an IPL contract. Notably, in the recently-concluded auctions, Shanaka was not picked up by any franchise for the upcoming season of the cash-rich league.
“Magnificent display of power hitting by Dasun Shanaka. Definitely one of the best T20 finishers in the game. Congratulations for scoring the fastest T20I 50 for SL. His recent performances scream of an IPL contract, and I will be surprised if he doesn’t land on one soon! #INDvSL,” tweeted Malinga.
Magnificent display of power hitting by Dasun Shanaka👏Definitely one of the best T20 finishers in the game.
Congratulations for scoring the fastest T20I 50 for SL🇱🇰
His recent performances scream of an IPL contract and I will be surprised if he doesn’t land on one soon!#INDvSL
— Lasith Malinga (@malinga_ninety9) January 5, 2023