India vs Sri Lanka: Three key takeaways from the first T20I in Mumbai

    It might have been quite the nail-biter of a finish in the end, but the Indian cricket team started their three-match T20I series against Sri Lanka with a win

    Deepak Hooda : Player of the match Deepak Hooda : Player of the match

    The match went down to the final over, with Sri Lanka needing 15 to win off the last six balls. However, Axar Patel held his nerve to give India a close 2-run win. 

    It was, in many ways, an excellent T20I match to have witnessed either live or on television, with the pitch giving enough assistance to both batsmen and bowlers – but India will be glad to have won this game. 

    With that in mind, here are three key takeaways from the first T20I in Mumbai. 

    Hooda serves notice of his credentials – Despite being named in the India squad for the 2022 T20 World Cup, Deepak Hooda did not get much chance to cement himself as a first-choice player and was in danger of falling by the wayside. 

    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Deepak Hooda is adjudged Player of the Match for his fine innings of 41* off 23 deliveries as <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TeamIndia</a> win by 2 runs.<br><br>Scorecard - <a href=""></a> <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#INDvSL</a> <a href="">@mastercardindia</a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; BCCI (@BCCI) <a href="">January 3, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

    However, his blistering knock of 41 off 23 balls was a reminder of just how effective a batsman he can be. His quickfire knock helped India climb out of a rut, which we will discuss in just a bit. More importantly, his attacking batting against Sri Lanka’s spinners helped considerably. 

    He did not get a bowl in this game but can be confident of his place with Hardik Pandya as captain since the all-rounder rates Hooda as a good option. Furthermore, such performances will only keep the door open for more such chances to come his way. 

    Harshal, Chahal’s form a concern – There were bright spots in the Indian bowling, with debutant Shivam Mavi picking a four-for and Umran Malik using his searing pace to good effect. However, there were also some concerning signs for the team: Yuzvendra Chahal and Harshal Patel. 

    Chahal didn’t play the T20 World Cup due to his tendency to be occasionally expensive, and that hasn’t changed yet – he conceded 26 runs in just two overs, making him the most expensive bowler on the night. Harshal Patel, too, gave away 41 runs despite taking two wickets.

    Given both are senior players, it is understandable they will be given a longer rope. Still, it is also worth wondering how long that rope should be given. Both have struggled for form in the past few months, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. 

    New captain, same old problems – Pandya is not officially India’s new T20I captain, but the announcement is more a case of when than if. However, if there is anything he would have learned, old habits die hard — awful ones at that. 

    India displayed precisely the same problems they have in the past. Their top order was slow and collapsed, meaning they were again dependent on a bailout from the lower order, which they got. The bowling had its moments but was generally more miss than hit. 

    It shows that the rot in this team runs deep and that a captaincy change and a focus on new personnel might not change things overnight. It will take some time for Pandya to be able to mould this younger team in his image.