India cling on for final-ball win over Sri Lanka as Axar and Mavi star

By Sports Desk January 03, 2023

Axar Patel and Shivam Mavi rescued India as they held off Sri Lanka for a thrilling final-ball victory in Tuesday's first T20I in Mumbai.

India were in trouble when they lost Shubman Gill (7), Suryakumar Yadav (7) and Sanju Samson (5) within seven overs, but Deepak Hooda (41 not out) and Axar (31 not out) put on an unbeaten partnership of 68 to carry the hosts to 162/5.

Axar then dismissed two after taking up the ball, while debutant Mavi claimed a four-wicket haul, though India were made to endure a nervy finish as both Kasun Rajitha (5) and Dilshan Madushanka (0) were run out in search of a match-winning boundary at the last.

The hosts made a poor start at the Wankhede Stadium, losing Gill lbw before Yadav handed Bhanuka Rajapaksa a simple catch from Chamika Karunaratne's first delivery. 

India crawled to 77/3 before suffering another huge blow as Wanindu Hasaranga caught Ishan Kishan (37), but they eventually posted a respectable target thanks to the efforts of Axar and Hooda – both of whom would play key roles in the dramatic finale.

Mavi's superb showing then seemed to have put India in complete control as the visitors were reduced to 132/8, but Karunaratne (23 not out) teed up a frantic finale with two huge sixes.

Requiring five runs from three balls, Sri Lanka were suddenly favourites, but Hooda and Axar combined to run out Rajitha before Kishan sent stumps flying as Madushanka went for two runs from the final ball, sealing a dramatic win.

India take the initiative

India approached Tuesday's contest having gone unbeaten throughout their last 10 multi-game men's T20I series (W9 D1), though Sri Lanka's late recovery appeared likely to put their fine run of form under threat.

However, the Men in Blue held on in a frantic finale to take a 1-0 lead over their visitors, who were the last team to record a T20I series triumph against them in July 2021.

Mavi makes his mark

After struggling with the bat for long periods, India needed their bowlers to come up with the goods, and debutant Mavi obliged.

The 24-year-old recorded impressive figures of 4-22 as he claimed the crucial wickets of Pathum Nissanka and Dhanajaya de Silva on a stellar debut.

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