Axar Patel’s heroics help India beat Sri Lanka in T20

MUMBAI, India (AP) — Axar Patel held his nerve in the final over to help India beat Sri Lanka by a narrow two runs in the first T20 on Tuesday.

Patel restricted Sri Lanka, which needed 13 runs, to just 10 in the last over and India took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

Pacer Shivam Mavi also took 4-22 on debut as Sri Lanka was bowled out for 160 (20 overs). This was after Patel had scored 31 not out off 20 balls to help India reach 162-5 (20 overs).

Put in to bat, India struggled to get a good start. Debutant opener Shubman Gill (7), vice-captain Suryakumar Yadav (7) and Sanju Samson (5) were dismissed cheaply.

India was down to 46-3 in 6.5 overs before skipper Hardik Pandya steadied the ship with 29 off 27 balls. He put on 31 runs for the fifth wicket with Ishan Kishan (37).

The duo was dismissed by the 15th over with India placed at 94-5.

Deepak Hooda then struck 41 not out off 23 balls, including four sixes. Patel scored three fours and one six. They put on 68 runs off 31 balls for the sixth wicket as India made good use of the death overs.

Sri Lanka was further put on the back foot as Mavi struck twice early on. He bowled Pathum Nissanka (1) and had Dhananjaya de Silva (8) caught.

Sri Lanka was down to 68-5 in 10.4 overs. India’s fast bowlers did most of the work. Umran Malik scalped 2-27 in four overs, while Harshal Patel returned 2-41.

Dasun Shanaka scored 45 off 27 balls to resurrect the innings.

Wanindu Hasranga scored 21 off 10 balls to help him. Together they turned the game around before Mavi dismissed Hasranga in the 17th over.

Malik dismissed Shanaka in the 18th over as Sri Lanka was down to 132-8.

Chamika Karunaratne fought with 23 off 16 balls but he was unable to cross the finish line. Harshal Patel had conceded 16 runs in the penultimate over, before Axar Patel (0-31) held his nerve for India’s victory.

It was India’s third narrowest win (by runs) in T20s.

“I was to put the team in difficult situations and it will help us in bigger games," Pandya, India’s new T20 skipper, said after his first win on home soil. “We, as a team, are quite good in bilateral (series), and that is how we will challenge ourselves,.”

The second T20 will be played in Pune on Thursday.

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