Calcutta: The Indian team’s inability to finish a close match once again showed on Monday as they lost their opening warm-up tie of the ICC World T20 against Sri Lanka by five runs in Mirpur.
Batting first, Sri Lanka scored 153 for six and then bowled out India for 148 in exactly 20 overs. Needing 12 off the last over bowled by Lasith Malinga, Indians could get only six as the Lankan slinger finished with figures of four for 30 from four overs.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni did not bat because of a niggle in his right hand.
Suresh Raina (41), Yuvraj Singh (33) and Virat Kohli (17) failed to convert their starts.
Ravichandran Ashwin’s all-round show (3/22 and 19 runs) was the lone bright spot in the warm-up fixture.
After the early departure of the openers, Raina looked more comfortable on a low-bounce track as he played those customary lofted shots in the region between extra cover and mid-off. He also lofted Kulasekara for a six over mid-wicket.
He was looking good for a big knock as he reached 41 with the help of five fours and a six. But he was dismissed soon after. Kohli started off on a promising note smacking 17 off only eight balls as the duo added 32 runs in quick time before Malinga struck.
No one from the Indian team turned up at the post-match press conference, but immediately after the match, Dhoni and Dinesh Chandimal spoke. Despite the defeat, Dhoni said he was happy with the overall showing of the team. “Overall, things are looking good,” he said.
The following are excerpts
Dinesh Chandimal: We had an inauspicious start. But, afterwards Mahela (Jayawardene) and myself, and later on, Thisara (Perera) and (Nuwan) Kulasekara batted really well. I think 153 is a competitive total on this wicket. I am happy that we could get more than 150. And after that, the bowlers bowled really well.
We tried out Kulasekara at the death and Angelo (Mathews) during the Powerplays because we know (Lasith) Malinga is a wily old fox. We know that at the end he would be able to keep the batsmen at bay. At the end, we had a super game.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni: I have a niggle in my right hand that has developed a couple of days ago. We still have one more practice game to play and then the tournament proper starts. So we have the luxury of giving the injury another couple of days’ rest. There’s no real point risking it. And also there was a chance to give some of the batsmen a fair chance.
The way (Suresh) Raina and Yuvraj (Singh) batted, it augurs well for the team.
We may have to field three spinners at some point in time during the tournament. The reason being our fast bowlers haven’t been bowling really well… Because of that we may have to feature the third spinner. But we also have to see how the spinners bowl under the lights because of the dew factor. The good thing today was that Varun (Aaron) bowled well. (Mohammed) Shami is someone who has done the job of bowling well in the last few overs. Overall, things are looking good.