Colombo: Post the 5th ODI World Cup victory in UAE early this year, the World Champions face-off against Sri Lanka in a two-part Bilateral Series. The series features three ODI Matches followed by 5 T20 matches which will come to a close on the 24 July’2018. The Indian Squad consists of an equal number of new players making their debut in International Blind Cricket. The Head Coach of Team India and one of the chief selectors stated, “After much deliberation, we formulated the squad as we wanted to give the opportunity to the budding talents and for further selecting the squad for the next world cup.”
The Indian squad started for Sri Lanka on 14 July after a two-day practice session in the SPT Ground, Sarjapur, Bangalore on the 12 and 13.
A Brief on the three ODI Matches 15th to 17th July 2018
Sri Lanka has given a good fight having won the two ODIs of the three with India winning the last ODI and the two T20 Matches of the Bilateral Series. The first two matches of the series were affected by rain. In the first ODI, Sri Lanka won the toss, putting India to bat. The World Champions were all-out for 260 runs in just 37.2 overs. The rain constantly interfering with the match, the Duckworth Lewis method was used, after which Sri Lanka had to chase 233 from 33 overs. Sr Lanka won the game with more than four overs to spare. The World Champions who remained unbeaten for the last six years deviated from their winning streak.
The second ODI affected by rain was reduced to a twenty-over innings match where Sri Lanka won the toss and opted to bowl. Captain Ajay Reddy and all-rounder Sunil scored half-centuries to take the score to 195 at the end of the 20th over. Chasing this target Sri Lanka got off to a flier with opener Ajith Silva scoring his second half-century in as many games. He was ably supported by middle order bat Sahan Kumara who also notched up a well composed fifty.
India beat Sri Lanka by 66 runs in the 3rd ODI here today to make it 1-2 in the 3 match ODI series. The match for the first time in series had no rain delays. Once again Sri Lanka’s luck with the toss continued and as it was mandatory they opted to bowl first.India for the first time posted a total of over 300 as they finished on 323 losing 8 wickets. Ganesh top scored with 86 and was well accompanied by Sunil who scored his second consecutive half-century.
Chasing a huge target Sri Lanka lost early wickets and were always in trouble. Though they did have some useful partnerships lower down the order, regular wickets always kept the run rate in check. Ajay Reddy and Rambir picked up 2 and 3 wickets respectively, while Sahan Kumara top-scored for the hosts with 84. Thus, the first part of the bilateral series was taken over by the host nation by winning it 2-1. On the eve of the first T20, Mahantesh GK, President CABI and WBC stated, “Sri Lanka winning the first part of the Bilateral Series against the World Champions is good for the overall development of Blind Cricket at a global level.” He further said that the series proved to be encouraging the new players of the Indian Squad.
The third ODI proved to be the precursor of Team India’s victory where India managed to reverse the tables.
A Brief on the five T20 Matches
India beat Sri Lanka by 7 wickets in the first T20 match here today to take a 1-0 lead in the 5 matches T20 series. For the first time in the series, India won the toss and they put Sri Lanka to bat. The Indian bowlers justified the captain’s decision to bowl first as they restricted the hosts for a below par 168 runs in their 20 overs.
Chasing the target India made a steady start and were always ahead with balls to spare. A 3rd consecutive half-century on the tour from all-rounder Sunil Ramesh, a B3 player from Karnataka who orchestrated the visitors' comfortable seven-wicket victory. Sunil scored a quick half-century (52 runs) off 32 balls. He also bagged one of the crucial wickets of the match which made him the ‘Man of the Match.’ The Indian Captain, Ajay Reddy remained unbeaten at 25 while Ganesh scored 34 runs.
India beat Sri Lanka by 3 runs in the second T20 here today to take a 2-0 lead in the 5 match T20 series. Sri Lanka won the toss and they put India to bat. Indian Captain Ajay Reddy and Durga Rao gave a flying start with a partnership of 42 runs that ended with the Run Out of Durga Rao. The valuable contributions from the middle order propelled the score to 180/8 at the end of the 20th over.
Chasing a good target Sri Lanka made a decent enough start and at one point looked like they would easily take over the match. But some brilliant bowling from the Indians ensured the quick fall of wickets. Though Sri Lanka was running short of balls, they gave a good fight making it close and having lost by just three runs. This was certainly one of those games which left the spectators glued to their seats as anything was possible till the last ball.
All-rounder Sunil Ramesh was declared the Man of the Match. He scored a brilliant 42 while two of his crucial catches seemed pivotal in Team India’s win.
Sri Lanka beat India by 9 runs in the third T20 here today reducing the margin to 2-1 in the five-match T20 series. The match was an opportunity for team India to wrap up the T20. However, the fourth match would be the decider if it is in favor of the Indian Tea. Unlike the last match, India won the toss and put Sri Lanka to bat. The Sri Lankan batsman got off to a flier with their opening batsmen in the form of their life and ended up with a total of 190/8 in 20 overs. Sri Lankan Captain, Ajith Silva scored a brilliant 74 and also took two crucial wickets that turned the match in their favor.
Though it was an easy target to chase and the openers providing the much-needed momentum by maintaining the run rate at nine. The unfortunate run out of the Indian Captain, Ajay Reddy proved to be the turning point of the match. Durga Raju followed the Indian Captain after a doubtful ‘Leg Before Wicket.’ The run rate drastically fell after these two crucial wickets putting the middle order under pressure. All-rounder Sunil tried his best to achieve the required run rate batting exceptionally well. However, the other men in blue fell 9 runs short of victory.
The Head Coach, Team India, John David spoke to the media. He said, “It was an easy target to chase. But the poor batting from the middle order created a huge imbalance in the current and the required run rate.”
With this win, Sri Lanka made the series more exciting as they have reduced the margin to 2-1 with two games remaining. The world champions would want to wrap up the series when they take the field for the 4th game on the 24th. The hosts though will try and stay alive in the series giving a good fight to win the T20 matches of the first-ever Bilateral Series. And not to forget, it will be a doubleheader tomorrow and the series will be decided at all cost.
It was nothing short of a treat to the enthusiasts of Indian Blind Cricket as team India wrapped the T20 of the Bilateral Series with an easy 4-1 win. The last two matches of the series were scheduled for today where the fourth match proved to be the decider of the T20. India won the toss and elected to field and was able to restrict the hosts to 142 runs. However, the World Champions were charged with penalty pushing the target to 149. The Indian Captain, Ajay Reddy bagged the wicket of the Sri Lankan star player Ajith Silva which was the most crucial wicket leading India to victory. While chasing, the 70 run partnership of Ajay Reddy and Durga Rao helped India wrap the T20 in just 15.4 overs.
India won the toss in the second match of the day and repeated their earlier choice of chasing by putting Sri Lanka to bat. The Lankans gave a tough fight and put an impressive score of 190. Though a defendable total, experts were skeptical of India successfully chasing this target. It was truly a visual treat for the Indian fans when India chased 190 with four overs to spare and with all the wickets intact. Indian Captain provided good support to all-rounder Sunil Ramesh who scored a century in the last match.
This bilateral series definitely lived up to the expectations of the fans of Blind Cricket. The World Champions had a shaky start where they lost the first two games of the ODI matches. However, they got back into their best game for the T20 winning it by 4-1 reclaiming their championship status.
Mahantesh GK, President, CABI, and WBC stated, “The first-ever bilateral series brought in the first of its kind nail-biting matches that remained undecided until the last ball.” He also said that Sri Lankan winning the ODI of the series will encourage the other nations to promote Blind Cricket globally.”
Former Sri Lankan Captain and Minister of Ports and Shipping, Sri Lanka, Arjuna Ranatunga was the chief guest of the grand prize distribution ceremony. The World Cup-winning captain of Lanka has always patronized the game of blind cricket. During the ceremony, he expressed that Blind Cricket has developed year-on-year. He also reminisced his fond memories in India of the first T20 World Cup. Sunil Ramesh was awarded the “Man of the Series in B3 category” while Ajay Reddy and Ajith Silva were awarded the same in the B2 and B1 category respectively.