India came crashing down to earth in the first T20, on a green pitch and against a Sri Lanka side filled with three young pace bowlers desperate to make an impact. Now we move onto Ranchi for the 2nd T20 of the India vs Sri Lanka series, and the smart money is on the wicket at the JSCA International Stadium being brown and slow.
While there is nothing wrong in making a nice, fast-paced wicket for a T20 match – indeed such pitches lead to high-scoring encounters – the wicket at Pune was a little too "English" for India's liking, and with the World T20 only a month away, time is ripe to prepare wickets that the home team will thrive on.
Ranchi, who were only given the hosting rights for this T20 match after Delhi pulled out, should provide that, and, despite that batting debacle, India will fancy their chances of levelling the series.
As Dhoni himself said, while the pitch was not helpful, the batting was pretty poor as well, with most of the batsmen getting out to ill-advised shots. While some of those kinds of wickets are inevitable in a T20 game, playing according to the situation and conditions are also vital, and that is something none of the Indian batsmen – barring R Ashwin – did on Tuesday night.
This Indian batting, even without Virat Kohli, though, are too strong a unit to consistently fail and not learn from their mistakes. So expect a better effort from the likes of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh and Dhoni on Friday.
Sri Lanka were on cloud nine after their five-wicket victory over India, with a seriously-understrength side overwhelming one of the favourites for the World T20 title. India were expected to trample all over this Sri Lanka team, without Angelo Mathews, Lasith Malinga and Rangana Herath, but nothing should give the Lankans more joy than youngsters stepping up to the plate when required.
Kasun Rajitha did most of the damage at the top, before Dushmantha Chameera and Dasun Shanaka bundled out the middle and lower order to send India crashing to a total of a run above 100. The wickets of such high-profile batsmen will give the pace trio plenty of confidence, but it will be interesting to see how they cope when up against a flatter deck, with little assistance for the seamers.
The India openers, and the rest of the batsmen, will also be more wary now of the Sri Lankan bowlers, and that should make for a fascinating contest, because the key for the home team will be combining aggression with caution. Not going for those big-risk shots early, while ensuring the boundaries flow in the first six overs.
Easier said than done, but if there is an opening duo capable of doing it, it certainly is Rohit and Dhawan.
India vs Sri Lanka 2nd T20 schedule: Date: Friday, February 12.
Time: 7.30 pm IST (7.30 pm SLST, 2 pm GMT, 9 am ET).
Venue: JSCA International Stadium in Ranchi.
TV listings: India: Star Sports 1 and HD1, Star Sports 3 and HD3. Sri Lanka and the rest of the subcontinent: Star Sports. Australia: Fox Sports 1. Middle East and North Africa: OSN Sports Cricket HD. UK: Sky Sports 1. USA: Willow TV. South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa: SuperSport 7.