With nine players unavailable after all-rounder Krunal Pandya tested positive, the Indian camp was left with no option but to pin its hopes on a makeshift playing XI in the second T20I against Sri Lanka. The Shikhar Dhawan-led side played only five batsmen and included six specialist bowlers in the set-up only to suffer a four-wicket defeat against the hosts at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.
Debutants Devdutt Padikkal (29 off 23 balls) and Ruturaj Gaikwad (21 off 18 balls) showed a glimpse of their bright future as India notched up 132 for five. In response, Sri Lanka rode on Dhananjaya de Silva, who anchored their run-chase with an unbeaten 40.
Dhawan and coach Rahul Dravid could possibly hand the debut cap to another young player as India look to end their Sri Lanka assignment on a high. With the series locked at 1-1, the final T20I between India and Sri Lanka is expected to be a cracking affair.
"I am very proud of the boys because we gave a very good fight. That never-say-die attitude and taking the game to the last over while defending just 132, credit to both bowlers and batters," said Dhawan after the second T20I, underlining the show that his team put up despite facing an unexpected situation.
Sri Lanka skipper Dasun Shanaka thanked the BCCI for standing by their board and agreeing to play the series in these tough times.
"I thought if we could contain them to a low total, we could chase it. We were not able to capitalise in the first six overs. But DDS and Wanindu Hasaranga bailed us out. I should thank the BCCI and SLC for this opportunity because this is a huge opportunity for young guys in these times," Shanaka said.
As pacer Navdeep Saini hurt his shoulder while fielding at extra-cover on Wednesday, the team management could give the nod to Sandeep Warrier or Arshdeep Singh.
Sri Lanka: Avishka Fernando, Minod Bhanuka(w), Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dasun Shanaka(c), Dhananjaya de Silva, Wanindu Hasaranga, Ramesh Mendis, Chamika Karunaratne, Isuru Udana, Akila Dananjaya, Dushmantha Chameera, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Ishan Jayaratne , Binura Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara, Charith Asalanka, Asitha Fernando, Lakshan Sandakan, Ashen Bandara, Praveen Jayawickrama, Dhananjaya Lakshan, Pathum Nissanka, Lahiru Udara, Shiran Fernando
India: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shikhar Dhawan(c), Devdutt Padikkal, Sanju Samson(w), Nitish Rana, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Rahul Chahar, Chetan Sakariya, Varun Chakravarthy, Ishan Porel, Sandeep Warrier, Arshdeep Singh, Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore, Simarjeet Singh.
Match starts at 8 PM IST