2nd T20I: Axar, Suryakumar fifties in vain as India lose to Sri Lanka by 16 runs (Ld). (Credit : BCCI/twitter)

Pune, Jan 5 (IANS) In a match of fluctuating fortunes, India’s Axar Patel and Suryakumar matched Sri Lanka’s Kusal Mendis and Dasun Shanaka fifties for fifties but in the end the hosts fell short by 16 runs in the second T20I at the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) Stadium, here on Thursday.

With the bat dominating the ball on a true pitch on which bowlers were rewarded for putting in extra effort, Shanaka hammered 56 off 22 deliveries after Mendis had blazed away to 52 off 31 as Sri Lankans capitalising on wayward and ineffective Indian bowling to post 206/6 in 20 overs after being asked to bat first by Hardik Pandya who won the toss.

Chasing a big target, Axar Patel and Suryakumar Yadav rescued India from a precarious 34/5 to help them make a match of it before they fell short. Axar came up with sensational batting, blasting a half-century in 20 balls while Yadav scored 51 off 33 deliveries as India came roaring back from 57/5 to reach 148/5 when Suryakumar got out. And though Axar Patel and Shivam Mavi struck some lusty blows and took India from 57 off 24 balls to 20 off six, in the end the target proved too far.

Axar Patel hammered six sixes and two boundaries in his brilliant 31-ball 65 and Suryakumar and Mavi (26 off 15) dragged India from a precarious position to 20 off the last six deliveries. But in the end, the task was too stiff for the Gujarat batter who played some sensational shots including three sixes off successive deliveries in the 14th over. Dasun Shanaka got him out in the final over as India’s hopes ended.

Suryakumar, who survived a clear run-out chance, brought out his customary 360-degree play and after Deepak Hooda was out for 9, found an able ally in Axar as they brought up the hundred of the innings. Patel hammered Wanindu Hasaranga for a hat-trick of sixes in the 14th over and with Suryakumar Yadav helping himself to a six, the over cost Sri Lanka 26 runs. They creamed 15 runs off the next over — thus ending up hitting six sixes in two overs as Axar Patel blazed his way to a half-century off 20 balls, hitting two fours and 6 sixes.

India had lost Ishan Kishan, Shubman Gill and Rahul Tripathi early and when skipper Pandya was out for 12 runs followed by Deepak Hooda for 9, it seemed their chase would fizzle out.

The Sri Lankan bowlers started brilliantly but lost their way in the middle overs when Yadav and Patel went hammer and tongs, taking off 41 runs off 12 balls (14th and 15th overs), They, however, regrouped and clawed their way back to victory.

The Indian bowlers started poorly with Arshdeep Singh sending down three wides to concede 17 runs in the second over, Mendis blasting him for two fours and a six. Spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Axar Patel pulled them back into the game along with Umran Malik, who claimed two wickets off successive deliveries before the pacers again allowed Shanaka to take charge. Arshdeep sent five no-balls in all, conceding 37 runs in two overs as Shanaka unleashed some sensational shots to take his team to a big total.

Earlier, after a quiet first over sent down by Hardik Pandya, Arshdeep bowled a wild one, with three no-balls, and was carted around by Kusal Mendis for a four and six, conceding 19 runs in the over.

Mendis top-edged Pandya for a six over deep third-man, and treated himself to a four straight down the ground off a no-ball by Shivam Mavi, who was brought in as Arshdeep was struggling with his run-up. Sri Lanka were 55/0 at the end of the �Power-play,

Mendis continued in the same vein. He first drove Mavi for a four past mid-on and then slog-swept Axar Patel for a maximum over deep mid-wicket. Another six off Umran Mailk helped him bring his half-century off just 27 deliveries.

But India pulled back things a bit and Yuzvendra Chahal gave them the much-needed breakthrough when he caught Mendis (52, 31b, 3×4, 4×6) LBW with a slider that cramped the batter for space. The field umpire was unmoved but the DRS ruled in favour of the bowler.

Umran Malik castled Bhanuka Rajapaksa (2) with a 147-kph thunderbolt and when debutant Rahul Tripathi brilliantly caught Nissanka near the boundary rope off Axar Patel, Sri Lanka were 96/3 in the 12th over.

Charith Asalanka blasted back-to-back sixes off Chahal over deep-midwicket as Chahal continued to struggle and dropped short. He hammered Umran Malik to a six in the same area but the young J&K tearaway had the last laugh as he got Asalanka (37 off 19 balls) caught by Shubman Gill at deep midwicket boundary as the batter backed away attempting to smack him over the rope,

Malik was on fire and uprooted the stumps with a 140kph delivery to send Wanindu Hasaranga back for wickets off successive balls.

Brief scores:

Sri Lanka 206/6 in 20 overs (Dasun Shanaka 56 not out,Kusal Mendis 52, Charith Asalanka 37, Pathum Nissanka 33; Umran Malik 3-48, Axar Patel 2-24) beat India 190/8 in 20 overs (Axar Patel 65,Suryakumar Yadav 51, Shivam Mavi 26; Dasun Shanaka 2-4, Kasun Rajitha 2-22, Dilshan Madushanka 2-45) by 16 runs