Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf
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Seven balls into his innings, Ishan Kishan gets a full toss outside his off stump. In a blink, it has scorched its way to the cover boundary. The next ball from Chamika Karunaratne is a shorter, slower delivery. The shoulders swing into action. The elbows are a blur. This ball blazes and takes an even quicker route to the rope. Straight of cover this time.
Kishan's bat functions more like rocket launcher than trampoline. That he is no conventional "timer of the ball" is clear, because he throws every milligram of his body weight into some of his shots. But this is not the same thing as saying he does not have timing. On evenings like these, the force that goes up from his toes, through his hips, chest, shoulders, arms, wrists, seems to be matched by the energy that his bat, of its own accord, is producing. It's big-effort batting mixed with glorious-timing results. The best of both worlds. It took seven years at the international level for Jayasuriya to mesh his explosive power with batting's more refined virtues. Kishan is in his ninth T20I.
But we know where the refinement came for Kishan, right? He's hit 1452 runs in the IPL, and commanded a pay packet of more than US$2 million in the most-recent auction. He's played 56 innings in that competition, and 108 T20 innings overall, and in that time, batted in a host of match situations and positions. On Thursday evening, he had to face two 140kph-plus bowlers up front, and a legspinner and a left-arm spinner, none of whom seriously troubled him. He batted, as on his debut against England last year, and in several internationals since, as if pounding bowlers of every description was a birthright.
When Sri Lanka came out to make their response to Kishan's 89 off 56 and India's 199 for 2, they had some promising young batters too. Pathum Nissanka, a first-class star who had sort of made the switch to being a decent T20 batter, having top-scored in the recent series in Australia, was opening the innings. Charith Asalanka, who was excellent in last year's T20 World Cup, was batting lower down.
Through the course of this tour, you might notice their better shots. Like Asalanka's ramp off Jasprit Bumrah at the end of the fourth over. Or his flat, hard, reverse sweep through point off Ravindra Jadeja in the 14th.
But you might also notice this. Young India players are largely doing things they've done before, going into their memory banks, calling up moments from their past in which they've triumphed in similar situations, against oppositions of perhaps somewhat worse but not-dissimilar quality. Sri Lanka's young players are always reaching. The next level. That big step. This vast chasm they have to somehow bridge.
Occasionally, they manage it. But often, they don't. You see their talent warring with their inexperience when Kamil Mishara, who has all of 15 T20s (of any description) on his ledger, punches the second ball he's ever faced from Bumrah to the cover fence on the up, before failing to connect with the next three deliveries, as Bumrah mixes it up. You see it in Janith Liyanage's pained 11 off 17, or even in Nissanka's fatal first ball, where he failed to account for the low bounce in the Lucknow pitch. Even Asalanka, the Sri Lanka batter who has best transitioned to T20Is in the last few years, was dropped twice on his way to his half-century.
We will not tread over SLC's many sins here, because they have been lavishly documented in these pages. But even if their officials were competent, Sri Lanka will never have the likes of this Indian cricketing machine, of which Kishan is a proud product. There are some harsh judgements on the Sri Lankan system, but also some bald economics. For much of Kishan's IPL career, he was coached by one of Sri Lanka's greatest cricketing minds.
Sri Lanka have two more T20s, and two Tests, in a country where they have done exceedingly poorly in both those formats. If they are to make something of this tour, they will have to reach for the kinds of performances they have never produced before.
India, like Kishan, ferocious at home in any case, need only to do what they've been doing.