RANCHI - In the first match, India's batsmen seemed not to know much about the pitch in Pune. They also seemed not to know much about Sri Lanka's second-string seam attack. Actually, no one did. Why would they? After a year of modest performances, and with the frontliners all in the sick bay, these new guys were selection Hail Marys. For a change, someone up there answered the prayers of Sri Lanka's fan base.

The result suggested there was truth to what Sri Lanka's local coaches have been saying all along. The domestic structure is so sick it could be used as a pro-euthanasia poster case. The administration sometimes veers towards the ridiculous. But there is no shortage of talent in Sri Lanka, even if, judging by the size of some players, there could be a dearth of protein.

Kasun Rajitha was sharp, and seamed it beautifully away. Dushmantha Chameera's pace is beginning to trouble batsmen all around the world. And if Dasun Shanaka's batting is anywhere near as good as the balls he sent to Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni, he could be settling in for a long career.

India were left reeling, but they will most likely land on their feet in Ranchi, and find the track there is much more to their liking. Dhoni seemed unfazed by the loss, because in the fantasy land of limited-overs batting, the Pune pitch was an anomaly. The top order is still rocking - it hasn't been long since they were so good as to make the middle order obsolete. The spin attack also seems well drilled, and Ashish Nehra was effective with the new ball in Pune.

Sri Lanka did not like facing R Ashwin in the longest format last year, and now he is troubling them in T20s. On a night that belonged to the seam bowlers, Ashwin spun the ball sharply to take two wickets in Pune. A return to slower conditions will tip his offbreaks with a little more venom. Ashwin will understand a little of the weaknesses of the Sri Lanka top order, and will also know that as a group, they have not played spin well over the past year. Ashwin's 31 not out with the bat was not enough to cover for the top-order collapse, but on other days, such runs could be invaluable.

Like the man himself, Sri Lanka have seemed a bubbly, dynamic unit with Dinesh Chandimal at the helm. In the past, Chandimal's major worry has been his own batting. Chandimal's leadership was coming along, but that T20 international average continued to flounder. Even now, it is less than 15.


INDIA: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (capt, wk), Yuvraj Singha, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra

SRI LANKA: Niroshan Dickwella, Danushka Gunathilaka, Dinesh Chandimal (capt; wk), Chamara Kapugedara, Dasun Shanaka, Milinda Siriwardana, Thisara Perera, Seekkuge Prasanna, Sachithra Senanayake, Dushmantha Chameera, Kasun Rajitha.