We adapted better - Dhoni
MS Dhoni, the India captain, has said India have adapted to the change in nature of Sri Lankan pitches better than the hosts on this tour. India won the ODI series 4-1 and beat Sri Lanka comfortably in the only T20 game in Pallekele.
"The wickets have changed here," Dhoni said at the post-match presentation ceremony. "When I first came here the ball used to stop a lot. But now the pitches have been relaid. I think we mastered our bowling and batting better than them."
India made 155 after being put in and while Dhoni admitted that was at least 15 runs short, the swinging ball, he said, ensured that going hard at the ball was not all that easy. "Overall we were really good. The ball was swinging till the 20th over so not easy to slog," Dhoni said.
Irfan Pathan, who was named Man of the Match, took advantage of the swing and picked up three wickets in Sri Lanka's chase, removing three senior batsmen - Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga and Mahela Jayawardene. "Mahela was going great guns. The ball was swinging and we knew that if we got wickets, it would be difficult for the Sri Lankan batsmen," Irfan said. "Our bowling coach [Joe Dawes] has been keeping a good eye on us."
Ashok Dinda was also among the wickets, taking 4 for 19 - the second-best figures in a T20 international by an Indian bowler - and three of them in one over, including the tail. "The kind of wicket this was, any amount of runs could have been chased so we had that tension too [while defending the total] but in the end we bowled well, fielded well and we won," Dinda said. "We have been playing a lot of cricket in domestic matches and IPL."
Among Dinda's strengths is the short ball. "No batsman thinks that the ball will come into the body at this height at 140 kph so in that sense the short ball is a surprise. If the batsman tries to hit, it can go for a six or a four also but at the same time the chances of getting a wicket are also high. Whenever I have bowled a short ball the fielder is at the back at fine leg or square leg."