Suryakumar Yadav mesmerised the sell-out crowd at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium with a magical unbeaten 112 in the third and deciding T20I between India and Sri Lanka in Rajkot on Saturday.
Suryakumar’s power-hitting masterclass powered India to a comfortable 91-run win. India captured the series 2-1.
Sri Lanka’s long wait for a maiden bilateral series win in India continues. The Lankans have featured in 25 bilateral series in this country, across formats, without success.
The visitor’s quest to make history was crushed by the unstoppable force that is Suryakumar. The Mumbai batter pasted deliveries to all parts of the ground, taking India to a mammoth 228 for five.
Suryakumar got going with a swivelling pull for six over deep square-leg — a shot he had made his own. He later created a few maximums out of nothing - moving well outside off stump to ramp the ball towards fine-leg. Such was the extent of his shuffle that he tumbled and rolled over on the ground.
Spinners Maheesh Theeksana and Wanindu Hasaranga were not spared either. With the cover fielder inside the circle, Suryakumar targeted the area by taking one step outside leg and lofting his drives.
He reached his third T20I hundred in 45 balls, with a single to deep cover in the 19th over. A flat-batted six over extra cover and a flicked four in the last over, bowled by Karunaratne, was the icing on the Suryakumar cake.
The panicking Sri Lankans erred by not attempting the slower balls or bouncers. One-drop Rahul Tripathi, playing his second T20I, provided the early sparks with an enterprising 16-ball 35. A couple of straight sixes off Karunaratne provided a glimpse of the talent that Tripathi brings to the table.
Shubman Gill (46, 36b, 2x4, 3x6) kept Suryakumar company for a 111-run third-wicket stand. Shubman took no chances to length deliveries, and only opened up when the bowlers overpitched.
Axar Patel provided the late fireworks with an unbeaten 9-ball 21. The Indian innings stayed true to the modern-day T20 winning mantra - attack relentlessly from start to finish.
Sri Lanka’s chase was derailed when top-order batters Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis and Avishka Fernando fell within the space of eight deliveries. From 53 for three in 6.1 overs, Sri Lanka had a mountain to climb. With the required rate at 12 and increasing drastically, the middle and lower-order tried to force the pace and caved.
Left-arm speedster Arshdeep Singh, who bowled five no-balls in the previous encounter, did not overstep in his 2.4 overs. He was the most successful bowler with figures of three for 20.
The express Umran Malik (2/31) finished as the highest wicket-taker of the series with seven scalps.