Bhuvneshwar Kumar took four wickets as India eased to a 38-run win over Sri Lanka in the first T20 international on Sunday.

India posted 164-5 after they were asked to bat first in Colombo, with skipper Shikhar Dhawan's 46 and a 34-ball 50 from Suryakumar Yadav providing the bulk of the runs.

Dushmantha Chameera (2-24) and Wanindu Hasaranga (2-28) did the damage for Sri Lanka, but the majority of the home side's batsmen failed to fire after the interval.

Avishka Fernando (26) and Charith Asalanka (44) briefly gave Sri Lanka some hope, but Kumar (4-22) and Deepak Chahar (2-24) got the job done as the hosts were bowled out for 126 with nine balls to spare.

Sri Lanka were outclassed in their recent T20I series in England, which ended in a 3-0 loss, but even on home soil Mickey Arthur's side lack the batting firepower and they have now won just once in their previous 14 completed fixtures.

The second and third Twenty20 internationals in Colombo, both also at the R. Premadasa Stadium, take place on Tuesday and Thursday as both sides continue their preparations for the T20 World Cup later this year.

Kumar closes in on milestone

India seamer Kumar was cool during the business end of the match as he took three of the final four wickets to fall. He needs just one wicket to reach 50 in T20I action for India and become the fourth player to achieve this feat for the country.

Shanaka must deliver more

Sri Lanka lost their final six wickets for less than 15 runs and needed more from T20 captain Dasun Shanaka, who made a tame 14-ball 16. Shanaka is normally an aggressive middle-order batsman but his modest innings included just one four before he was stumped off the bowling of debutant Varun Chakravarthy.

Shikhar Dhawan led from the front with an unbeaten 86 as India cruised to a seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the first ODI in Colombo.

The hosts headed into the contest on the back of coronavirus-interrupted preparations and ructions behind the scenes between players and the national board, but scrapped their way to a competitive 262-9 despite no player passing 50.

Dhawan - captaining a largely second-string India, given Virat Kohli's Test squad have departed for their Test series in England next month - ensured the tourists reached their target with 80 balls to spare, while debutant Ishan Kishan (59) and Prithvi Shaw (43) also impressed - the latter hitting nine of his 24 deliveries to the boundary.

Avishka Fernando and wicketkeeper Minod Bhanuka put on 49 for the opening wicket before Fernando lobbed Yuzvendra Chahal's (2-52) first delivery to Manish Pandey at short cover to depart for 33.

Leg-spinner Chahal excelled in tandem with slow left-armer Kuldeep Yadav (2-48), who accounted for Bhanuka (27) and Bhanuka Rajapaksa – the number three's breezy 24 from 22 deliveries briefly threatening to change the tempo – to leave Sri Lanka 89-3.

From that point it was a repeated story of useful contributions without anything substantial. New captain Dasun Shanaka and Charith Asalanka diligently compiled 39 and 38 respectively before each falling to swing bowler Deepak Chahar (2-37), while Krunal Pandya's miserly left-arm spin (1-26) snared up the middle overs, leaving Chamika Karunaratne's unbeaten 43 off 35 balls as Sri Lanka's highest score.

Shaw made it clear India would not be shackled in similar fashion as he climbed into Sri Lanka from the off.

 

Isuru Udana's two overs disappeared for 27 – including three successive fours through the covers - and the score was 58 when Fernando caught Shaw at long-on off Dhananjaya de Silva, whose two wickets came at a steep cost of 49 runs in five overs.

Kishan, who enjoyed an unforgettable 23rd birthday, ensured there was little let-up. He danced down the pitch to dispatch Dhananjaya for six first ball, clattering the next for four more through cover point.

The youngster reached a half-century in 33 balls and edged his 42nd behind off Lakshan Sandakan but Dhawan remained as a regal presence, finding further willing allies in Manish Pandey (26) and Suryakumar Yadav (31 not out) to complete a resounding victory.

Shanaka wants more variety from Sri Lanka

The difference between two – in isolation, at least – impressive opening partnerships set the tone for the contest. But the end of the first powerplay, Sri Lanka were 55-1. India were already up to 91-1 after 10 overs. "The Indians batted aggressively," Shanaka said. "We needed to vary the pace as the ball was coming on to the bat nicely. In the next game, we will have to improve on that."

Dhawan laughing as the elder statesman

When you've top-scored as a victorious captain and also surpassed 6,000 career ODI runs, there is perhaps no better time for self-deprecation. Dhawan certainly thought so, claiming he did not have the required shots to reach three figures with an exciting young batting line-up firing all around him.

"I was telling them to take it easy actually," he beamed, before chuckling his way through a post-match presentation where Shaw was named player of the match despite scoring half as many runs as his skipper.

"The way these young boys play in the IPL, they get lots of exposure and they just finished the game in the first 15 overs only. I thought about my hundred but there were not many runs left. When Surya came out to bat, I thought I need to improve my skills."

A second-string India side will start their ODI series in Sri Lanka as favourites, with the hosts heading into Sunday's opener in Colombo against a backdrop of multi-faceted chaos.

The start of the series was delayed by five days due to a coronavirus outbreak in the Sri Lanka camp, with batting coach Grant Flower and team data analyst GT Niroshan testing positive for the Delta variant.

Sri Lanka's squad were allowed to leave isolation and resume their preparations last weekend after returning negative PCR tests.

ESPNcricinfo reported team doctors believed Flower and Niroshan's infections stemmed from the recent tour of England, where the home team suffered a breach of their bio-secure bubble that forced them to name a reserve line-up for their subsequent ODI games against Pakistan.

Although Sri Lanka do not find themselves in quite such a selection bind, they remain without deposed captain Kusal Perera due to a shoulder injury and Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Mendis and Danushka Gunathilaka remain suspended for breaking COVID-19 protocols during the England tour.

Dasun Shanaka will skipper the team, a previously bit-part white ball player having ascended to the role amid a stand-off between Sri Lanka's players and their board over playing contracts.

They will emerge from a troubled period to take on an India side captained by opener Shikhar Dhawan and with pace bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar second in command.

India batting great Rahul Dravid has been named as coach for the tour, with the first-choice side awaiting their forthcoming series in England.

Batsmen Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Nitish Rana, all-rounder K Gowtham and left-arm seamer Chetan Sakariya have all been handed maiden call-ups.

 

Bhuvi ready to put injury woes to one side

Kumar will be the leader of fast bowling unit also featuring Sakariya, Navdeep Saini and Deepak Chahar. Having been beset by injury problems over recent years, he was back to his best in the March limited-overs series against England. In the ODIs, he took six wickets at a miserly economy rate of 4.65.

Shanaka must show leadership class

Irrespective of how and why Shanaka became Sri Lanka captain, he is now the man in possession of a role that tends not to promise longevity for incumbents. He will need to improve upon 611 runs and 10 wickets from his 28 ODI appearances to date to turn some unhelpful conversations around.

Key Opta facts

- India are undefeated in their past 11 ODI series against Sri Lanka (W9, D2). Their previous defeat was a 3-0 reverse way back in 1997.
- India have won each of eight most recent ODIs in Sri Lanka, all versus the host country. It is a streak that began after a nine-wicket loss in 2012.
- Sri Lanka have at least won their past five ODIs at the R. Premadasa Stadium. The last time they enjoyed a longer winning run at the venue in this format was a six-match span from December 2001 to September 2002.
- Dhawan will become the 25th player to captain India in ODIs. He requires 23 more runs to become the 10th Indian player to register 6,000 runs in 50-over internationals.

Delhi Capitals piled on the pain for Punjab Kings and KL Rahul by racing to a seven-wicket victory in the Indian Premier League and going top of the table.

It was revealed earlier on Sunday that Kings captain and star batsman Rahul faces surgery after being diagnosed with acute appendicitis, and he was in hospital while this match played out at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.

In his absence, stand-in skipper Mayank Agarwal made a dominant 99 not out in a total of 166-6, helming the Kings innings and cutting loose when he saw fit in a terrific 58-ball knock that contained four sixes and eight fours.

Shikhar Dhawan produced the key innings for the Capitals in response, making an unbeaten 69 and finding the sort of support that Agarwal lacked, helping Delhi to 167-3, winning with 14 balls to spare.

Agarwal had required five from the final ball of the Kings innings to post what would have been just the second IPL century of his career, but he could only crunch a four down the ground rather than clear the ropes.

Kagiso Rabada had earlier taken two wickets in his first two overs, the second coming when he bowled Kings veteran Chris Gayle with a full toss immediately after being cracked for six by the West Indies batsman.

That was the first of three sixes off Rabada's bowling, but the South African paceman also removed Prabhsimran Singh and Chris Jordan while taking 3-36 in his four-over allocation.

Dawid Malan made 26 but it was ostensibly a one-man show as Agarwal contended with a revolving cast of batting partners.

Delhi had more about them, with Prithvi Shaw making 39 in a 63-run first-wicket stand alongside Dhawan, before Steve Smith added 25.

Shimron Hetmyer launched Riley Meredith for two consecutive sixes followed by a cover drive for four in the 18th over, leaving Delhi just two short of their victory target.

Neither Hetmyer nor Dhawan had the privilege of finishing the job, however, with a pair of wides from Meredith carrying the Capitals over the line.


Agarwal deserved better

Not only did he take over as captain, Agarwal also led by proud example, just as Rahul as so often done. His innings was the standout performance of this match, but where he rose to the occasion, others in the Kings ranks wilted. Gayle, with 13, was the team's third highest scorer, and it is almost impossible to win matches that way.

Getting all Het up

Hetmyer's late care-free cameo of 16 from four deliveries would likely not have happened without his team-mates laying solid foundations. They did so in the face of largely unthreatening bowling from Punjab, who sit sixth with three wins from eight games, amid doubts over whether their leader will be back in action this season.

Prithvi Shaw was the star performer for Delhi Capitals as they recorded an emphatic seven-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League.

Shaw hit 11 fours – including six in a row in one over – and a trio of sixes in an innings of 82 that helped the Capitals coast to a 155-run target at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.

Shikhar Dhawan was happy enough to play second fiddle to his opening partner, making 46 from 47 balls before falling lbw to Pat Cummins with the total on 132 in the 14th over.

Cummins (3-24) also removed the outstanding Shaw and Rishabh Pant (16) with the finishing line in sight, leaving Marcus Stoinis to complete the job with a streaky four as Delhi triumphed with 21 balls to spare.

Kolkata had been indebted to some big hitting in the closing stages from Andre Russell but still finished with a below-par 154-6. The all-rounder blasted two fours and four sixes to top score with 45 not out.

Their hopes of posting a more substantial total had been damaged by losing four wickets for 13 runs in the middle overs, seeing them slip from 69-1 to 82-5.

Shubman Gill made 43 at the top of the order but both captain Eoin Morgan and Sunil Narine failed to trouble the scorers amid the collapse.

Lalit Yadav finished with figures of 2-13 for Delhi, while Axar Patel (2-32) also struck twice with his left-arm spin to help restrict the Knight Riders, who have now lost five of the past six meetings between the teams.


Double celebration for Russell

Russell celebrated his 33rd birthday with an eye-catching 27-ball knock that saw him surpass 6,000 Twenty20 runs in his career.

The right-hander was cautious at first before cutting loose, smashing Kagiso Rabada for successive sixes to finish the 19th over before ending the 20th with another off the bowling of Avesh Khan.

Capitals gain from a Shaw thing

Shaw reached his half-century from just 18 deliveries, aided by taking Shivam Mavi for six successive fours in an opening over that cost 25 runs (Delhi's reply had started with a wide).

Delhi's fifth victory in seven outings in the 2021 season sees them move level on 10 points with leaders Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore in the table.

Shikhar Dhawan smashed 92 to lead Delhi Capitals to a six-wicket win over Punjab Kings in a high-scoring Indian Premier League encounter.

Half-centuries from KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal helped Punjab post 195-4 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai after being put into bat by Capitals skipper Rishabh Pant.

However, Delhi – who came into the contest having alternated between defeat and victory across their previous seven IPL games – bounced back from a three-wicket loss to Rajasthan Royals last time out in stunning fashion.

Dhawan dominated the Kings attack in a well-paced chase, following up his 85 in his side's opener against Chennai Super Kings with a marvellous knock that included 13 fours and two sixes.

Opening partner Prithvi Shaw contributed 32 at the top of the Capitals' order while Marcus Stoinis finished the job in a hurry, the all-rounder making 27 not out from just 13 balls.

Punjab's total had been built on the solid foundation provided by openers Rahul and Agarwal as they shared a 122-run stand, the latter the more aggressive of the pair as his score of 69 came from 36 deliveries.

West Indian duo Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran made just 11 and nine respectively as the innings briefly stuttered, but late cameos from Deepak Hooda – who hit two sixes to make 22 not out from 13 deliveries – and Shahrukh Khan (15 off five balls) lifted the Kings.

Delhi had lost five of the past seven meetings between the franchises but Dhawan made sure they prevailed this time, in the process becoming the competition's leading run-scorer in 2021.

 

Kings run into a spot of trouble

Rahul hit seven fours and two sixes while at the crease, but his 61 runs came from 51 deliveries at a strike-rate of 119.60.

Punjab Kings would have had designs on making in excess of 200 following the start they were given by their openers, but an inability to get after Ravichandran Ashwin – his four overs of spin went for just 28 runs – saw them come up just short.

Capitals gain from in-form opener

Dhawan received the orange cap after the game as he moved above Glenn Maxwell of Royal Challengers Bangalore in the run-scoring table. The left-hander is scoring at 163.15 runs per 100 deliveries in the 2021 edition of the Twenty20 tournament, despite having only hit four sixes.

Bowled within sight of a century as he attempted to sweep Australian seamer Jhye Richardson, Dhawan then watched on as Stoinis rushed his team home with 10 balls to spare.

Brilliant half-centuries openers Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw inspired Delhi Capitals to an opening seven-wicket win over Chennai Super Kings in the India Premier League.

Chennai were asked to bat when Rishabh Pant won the toss and recovered well from the early losses of Faf du Plessis for nought and Ruturaj Gaikwad to post 188-7, Suresh Raina top scoring with 54.

But Dhawan (85) and Shaw (72) scythed into what looked like a daunting chase with a stunning stand of 139 for the first wicket and skipper Pant (15 not out) was there to see the Capitals home with eight deliveries to spare.

Chris Woakes (2-18) and Avesh Khan (2-23) set the tone for Delhi as Chennai slumped to 7-2 and the seamers also returned to fine effect – Avesh persuading veteran captain MS Dhoni to drag on for a duck and Woakes bowling fellow England all-rounder Sam Curran with the final ball of the innings.

Curran plundered 34 from 15 deliveries, including two sixes off brother Tom (1-40), in a breezy effort alongside Ravindra Jadeja (26 not out), their 51-run partnership capitalising upon a rebuilding job impressively helmed by Raina.

The India batsman ploughed Marcus Stoinis over for his fourth maximum to reach 50 off 32 balls and he received useful support from Moeen Ali (36) and Ambati Rayudu (23).

A dire mix-up, during which Jadeja collided with Avesh, saw Raina run out amid a slump of three wickets for 14 runs – a blip that proved costly as Dhawan and Shaw took the Super Kings attack apart.

They motored at around 10-an-over for the majority of their partnership. Shaw had faced only 38 balls, hitting nine fours and three sixes, by the time he skewed Dwayne Bravo (1-38) to Moeen and there was little remaining doubt about the outcome when Dhawan was trapped lbw by Shardul Thakur (2-53).

Virat Kohli hailed "one of our sweetest victories" after India fought hard to overcome England by 66 runs in the opening ODI in Pune.

Man-of-the-match Shikhar Dhawan laid a solid foundation for India with an assured 98, missing out on three figures when he miscued a pull off Ben Stokes to Eoin Morgan at midwicket.

Kohli made a similarly fluent half-century but the hosts had stumbled to 202-5 when debutant Krunal Pandya joined KL Rahul in the 41st over.

Krunal (58 not out) laid waste to an otherwise impressive England bowling performance, his 26-ball fifty the fastest ever in a maiden ODI, while wicketkeeper Rahul similarly impressed with an unbeaten 62 as India posted 317-5.

England threatened to make short work of that total as Jonny Bairstow (94) and Jason Roy (46) motored to 135 without loss inside 15 overs, before India's seamers turned the contest on its head.

Prasidh Krishna, also on debut, was the pick with 4-54, while Shardul Thakur's 3-37 accounted for the dangerous trio of Bairstow, Morgan (22) and Jos Buttler (2), and the excellent Bhuvneshwar Kumar took 2-30.

"That's one of our sweetest victories in the recent past. We haven't won many good games in ODIs," India skipper Kohli said at the post-match presentation.

"It was a great comeback from all our bowlers after going for few runs early on. Prasidh was amazing, Krunal as well. Shardul, Bhuvi were amazing. I am a really proud man right now.

"The team showed great character and intensity. As I've mentioned in the past as well, we promote players who have intent and back their skills.

"A special mention to Shikhar's innings as well and KL was back among the runs. We want to back people who will do a selfless job.

"It's a healthy competition between everyone for every slot. We have two or three players available for every slot."

Perhaps not to quite the same extent, but world champions England have their own enviable depth of talent.

Nevertheless, the steadying hand of Joe Root at number three, where Stokes stepped up to be dismissed for one, and Jofra Archer's death bowling were certainly missed as both players undertake a period of rest.

As in the recent 3-2 reverse in the T20I series, captain Morgan was left to rue middle-order failings, with the plummet form 135-0 to 176-5 key in England's challenge fading to 251 all out with 47 deliveries unused.

Nevertheless, he stood by the aggressive approach that has brought his side so much recent success.

"I thought the bowlers were outstanding and there was a bit more on offer for their seamers," he said.

"The two openers were outstanding, but we failed to build on from that. We need to execute better than we did. India did really well and deserved to win.

"Being able to take the attack to the opposition is something that we pride ourselves on. We want to continue to push the envelope in that regard. It's better for us to lose like this than losing by 20 runs.

"The game is always moving forward, technology and fitness are moving forward, so we need to push hard as we can. It's important for us to dictate the way we play."

A magnificent and emotional ODI debut from all-rounder Krunal Pandya helped to give India an authoritative 66-run win in the series opener against England.

The tourists twice looked to have taken control of the contest – initially when India squandered the platform laid by Shikhar Dhawan (98) and stumbled to 202-5, before Jonny Bairstow (94) and Jason Roy (46) tore after the eventual target of 317-5 with a 135-run opening stand inside 15 overs.

But Krunal clattered an unbeaten 58 form 31 deliveries, featuring seven fours and two sixes, as he and KL Rahul climbed into some sub-par death bowling from England.

In a curtailed mid-innings interview following his knock, Krunal broke down in tears as he dedicated his format debut to his father, who passed away in January.

Having seen his left-arm spin disappear under Roy and Bairstow's early assault, Krunal returned to claim the important wicket of Sam Curran (12) as England subsided meekly – seamers Prasidh Krishna (4-54), Bhuveneshwar Kumar (2-30) and Shardul Thakur (3-37) doing the bulk of the damage to dismiss Eoin Morgan's side for 251 in 42.1 overs.

 

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