Team India had a forgettable night on Thursday after they lost to Sri Lanka in the second T20I in Pune. Chasing 207 runs, the Hardik Pandya-led side fell short of 16 runs as the three-match series is now levelled at 1-1. Despite facing a defeat, the Indian fans will definitely cherish the quickfire from all-rounder Axar Patel, which took Team India on the verge of victory. In the chase of the mammoth target, India lost five wickets with just 57 runs on the board. It was then Axar (65), who stitched a 91-run stand with Suryakumar Yadav (51) and brought a new life into the game. However, their efforts went into vain as Sri Lanka got their hold back and Team India was restricted at 190/8.
Axar, who also scalped two wickets in the match, has been receiving a lot of praise from the fans and former cricketers for his exceptional performance. Former India batter Wasim Jaffer stated that if Axar goes on performing like this then he can easily fill-in the shoes of star all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who has been missing from the action after he picked up an injury in Asia Cup 2022.
“India are not missing Jadeja, who has been a phenomenal player in all three formats. But since India have found Axar Patel, we are not talking too much about Jadeja since he’s been away. Goes on to show how good Axar has come about as a cricketer. Fantastic. At the moment, yes (Axar is India’s No.1 spin all-rounder). India are lucky they have got such a like-for-like replacement (for Jadeja) in Axar Patel. He’s making the most of it in all formats. He can bowl in the powerplay, which I feel Jadeja does not like. Axar can do it. And If he bats like this, it’s debatable,” said Jaffer on ESPNCricinfo.
“In the last game also, he’s contributed immensely with the bat. Today (Thursday), he again showed how much he has improved. Massive improvements in Axar as a batter. He’s got a pretty good technique. We don’t see him slogging too many balls. He’s pretty sure that when he connects, he’s going to go out of the park. He targets the spinners, stands still and hits it pretty straight as well,” he added.
Skipper Dasun Shanaka made a rear-guard unbeaten 56 off 22 balls, while wicket-keeper Kusal Mendis hit a 31-ball 52 to power Sri Lanka to an imposing 206 for 6.
India had a nightmarish start to their chase slumping to 57 for 5 before Axar (65 off 31) and Surya (51 off 36) raised hopes of an improbable win with a scintillating sixth-wicket stand.
The task became tough once Surya departed in the 16th over, but Axar and Shivam Mavi (26 off 15) shared quick 41 runs to bring down the equation to 21 off the last over.
But Axar’s dismissal in the third ball of the final over was the last nail in the coffin for India.
Both the teams will now square off against each other in the third and final T20I match on Saturday in Rajkot.
(With AFP Inputs)
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