Who Was The Star Of Second T20I Between IND and SL?
But it wasn’t to be. It was the Sri Lankan captain Dasun Shanaka, who was the star player of the game wherein his all-round abilities - batting (power-hitting) brilliance and calmness with the ball - helped the visitors prevail by 16 runs.
Was it a captain’s performance? “I think so,” Shanaka cheekily said, after helping his side to a series-leveling win. A win that could have easily been a loss, and another series loss to India, had he not taken up the mantle to himself when 21 runs were needed to be defended in the last over.
To be fair, Shanaka was the only logical option remaining to take the last over: Hasaranga, the world’s number 1 ICC T20I bowler, was carted for 41 runs in his 3 overs, and was smashed for 4 sixes in his third over.
He was to bowl to a rampaging Axar Patel (63*(29) before the start of the over) and tailender Shivam Mavi who had tonked 25*(12) like a proper finisher.
Shanaka is 31 years old, and a few months ago had led Sri Lanka to the Asia Cup victory, en route defeated India in the group stage and Pakistan in the final. A Sri Lankan side that has been in transition for eons, and had been a subject of mockery for the world, and embarrassment for their former greats.
In my eyes, Dasun Shanaka is already a Sri Lankan great - regardless of what the lack of an IPL contract says.
It is with very certainty we can agree: had Shanaka been an Englishman or an Aussie, he would have bagged millions in the IPL auction. A humble man who tried to pacify the saga with the Bangladesh team while others went bonkers in press conferences and on the field. An all-rounder who does what’s best for his team regardless of whether his own stats take a hit.
While he could have easily asked Hasaranga, the top-ranked ICC T20I bowler, to bowl the last over, or could have asked Dhananjaya de Silva to bowl his off-spinners to left-handed Axar Patel, the Sri Lankan skipper stepped up in the need of the hour - as he has been doing against India recently: in his last 5 T20I knocks vs India including today, Shanaka has smashed 255 runs while being dismissed only once at a strike rate of 205.
So it wasn’t really a surprise, that he succeeded with the ball too: giving away only 4 runs and dismissing both Axar and Mavi.
Earlier, Sri Lanka wouldn’t have been able to reach 206 if not for Shanaka’s 56*(22). He took Sri Lanka’s score from 138/6 in 16 overs to over 200 runs, blasting 6 sixes in his innings.
“We could’ve done well in the middle part. Game was set by the openers. Need to play well in the middle order to allow finishers to finish well. It’s not the dew factor, it’s the skill of Indian batters. They took the game away from us but still we managed to hold the nerve. Really good to defend the total especially against India in these conditions,” he said.
There is plenty you can understand of Shanaka’s character with his statement after the game where he was Sri Lanka’s starman. Hint: you won’t find a single “I” in this.