MS Dhoni calls for improvement
India may have squared the series with a record chase but MS Dhoni has said the team will have to pull up their socks before they can claim to be a quality Twenty20 side. India's successful chase of a target of 207, the highest successful chase in this format, snapped a four-game losing streak but their bowling and fielding left much to be desired.
It was the second match in a row that Sri Lanka were allowed to cross 200, and the fielding was worse than in Nagpur, with six catches going down. "We could be the best team in the world in this format, but our bowling and fielding has got to improve," said Dhoni. "We have been struggling with our bowling for some time, not just in the Twenty20 format, but in the one-day version as well.
"If we could improve that aspect of the game, we would be a difficult team to beat. We certainly have the batting and this team has got character, but there are areas in which we need to improve."
That India managed to emerge triumphant owed plenty to Virender Sehwag's 36-ball 64, Yuvraj Singh's unbeaten 60 off 25 balls, and Dhoni's quick 46. These three innings allowed India chase down Sri Lanka's total of 206 for 7 with five balls to spare. "We had the firepower to chase this score, but we needed a good start," said Dhoni. "Even if you lose a wicket at the top, the player who comes in ought to score at a brisk pace. That didn't happen for us in the first game in Nagpur, but we were perfect here. Overall, you need every batsman to contribute and that's exactly what happened in this game.
"I've never seen a team dropping six catches, but then Sri Lanka missed as many run-out chances. In an international game, you have to take those chances whatever the reasons may be."
Kumar Sangakkara's 31-ball 59 had been the foundation of Sri Lanka's imposing total, but he was left to look on in frustration as Sri Lanka outdid India's butter-fingered performance. "We did well to create that total which I thought was more than enough to win us this game," he said. "We bowled the first six overs really well, but those catches and those run outs really mattered in the end. We had our chances, quite a few of them really, and we didn't take them.
"From there on, it was just a case of trying to contain because once we let go of the chances, there was no way of putting pressure on the opposition."
Yuvraj, whose rambunctious innings made a massive difference, said his 28th birthday was his best to date. "This is my best birthday till now. I am very happy the way we played, especially the batsmen. Frankly I was not expecting to score 60 of 25 balls."
He also credited India's coach Gary Kirsten. "He is the best coach that I have ever played under," said Yuvraj. "He understands the game and the pressure."
The sides will now begin a five-match ODI series on December 15 in Rajkot.