India canter to series victory

Cricket Third ODI

India canter to series victory

On a day when as many as three major milestones were reached, all by batsmen, India completed an emphatic series win over Sri Lanka with still two more ties to go in the five-match rubber.

Defending a modest 242 all out, which was built on Mahela Jayawardene’s 17th ODI century, Sri Lanka couldn’t rein in the Indian batsmen as the hosts replied with 245/4 with 35 balls left in the innings. The win gave hosts an unassailable 3-0 lead and by the looks of it, it would be no less than a miracle if Lanka manage to win any of the two remaining games in Kolkata and Ranchi.

Shikhar Dhawan, who became the fastest Indian to 2000 ODI runs in 48 innings surpassing Navjot Sidhu and Sourav Ganguly (52 innings each), struck a sparkling 91 (79b, 8x4, 1x6) to set-up an easy chase here on Sunday.

With Ajinkya Rahane, Dhawan added 62 runs off 72 balls for the opening wicket while 69 came off 76 in the company of Ambati Rayudu who was run out after both the batsmen ended up at the non-striker’s end. The left-handed opener then raised 70 runs for the third wicket with Virat Kohli (53, 61b, 4x4, 1x6) before a dubious caught-behind decision by umpire Vineet Kulkarni ended his stay. By this time, though, it was all over bar the shouting for Lanka.

Kohli pocketed his second ODI series win as stand-in skipper and as an icing on the cake, he became the fastest batsman to 6000 ODI runs (136 innings) beating Sir Vivian Rachards’ record of 141 innings with his ‘rumoured’ girlfriend and Bollywood star Anushka Sharma celebrating in the stands.

The win, however, was orchestrated by the Indian bowlers and particularly Axar Patel (3/40) and Umesh Yadav (4/53) who stifled the Lankan batsmen with regular breaks     
But for Jayawardene’s rescue act, that also saw the 37-year-old complete 12000 ODI runs in his 426th appearance, Lankan innings would have ended up in total embarrassment on a pitch where a total of 300 appeared a par score. He was dour but delightful. But more than the style, the knock stood out for its purpose.

That India were without the services of Ishant Sharma, who walked off with back spasm after bowling four miserly overs, showed how shallow the visitors’ batting was. Angelo Mathews’ decision to make first use of the pitch in overcast conditions backfired with Yadav making early inroads. Kusal Perera fell in the first over while Kumar Sangakkara was out first ball, both fell to Yadav.

With two top-order batsmen back in the change room barely into the third over, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene were forced to curb their attacking instincts. The veteran duo summoned all its experience to keep the Indian attack at bay to put on a century stand (105 off 137 balls) before Dilshan fell to part-timer Rayudu.

Skipper Mathews started off confidently while Jayawardene was set and time was ripe for batting Power Play. As in the previous match, Lanka muffed it again as they lost three wickets for 16 runs during those five overs to lose the little momentum they had built.

It was Axar who plotted the mid-innings collapse, mixing up his deliveries. He varied pace and a flatter trajectory choked the Lankan batsmen, luring them into errors. Mathews was the first to go miscuing his pull off the third ball of the power play.

Having been kept quiet for four balls, Ashan Priyanjan went for an ambitious heave but couldn’t even clear mid-on. Chathuranga de Silva was forced into a false shot for Dhawan to hold on to a sitter in the circle. Thisara Perera lasted just four balls and from a relative comfort of 138/3 at the end of 30 overs to 158/7 in the space of 6.2 overs, the islanders slipped into total disarray. Even as his team-mates held a procession from the other end, Jayawardene stood like a rock. He beautifully farmed a 67-run partnership with Seekkuge Prasanna and took Lanka to a respectable total.   

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