Niroshan Dickwella’s sublime century (111, 93b, 12x4, 3x6) helped Sri Lanka-A register a series-levelling seven-wicket win over India-A in the final one-day match at the KSCA Rajnagar Stadium here on Saturday.
Chasing 260, openers Dickwella and Sangeeth Cooray (61, 74b, 7x4) put on 165 runs to establish a firm grip over the proceedings. It appeared to loosen slightly when leggie Shreyas Gopal (three for 49) had both of them stumped in back-to-back overs.
But Shehan Jayasuriya (45 n.o.) and skipper Ashan Priyanjan (33 n.o.) stitched together a 75-run partnership for the fourth wicket to lead their team home with 14 balls to spare and complete the comeback from being 0-2 down.
As long as Dickwella was at the crease though, the result was in little doubt. After a steady start, the 25-year-old took off in the seventh over, clubbing paceman Tushar Deshpande for four successive boundaries, two of them cheeky upper-cuts.
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Sandeep Warrier was welcomed in the next over with two sixes and a four before a swept boundary off Washington Sundar got him to his fifty (34b). The century would come 44 deliveries later. Oddly, the experienced Shreyas was introduced only after 20 overs and even his best efforts from there proved inadequate.
Earlier, after being put into bat, India was hampered by a less-than-satisfactory performance by its middle-order. Even as opener Ruturaj Gaikwad (74, 73b, 8x4) continued his fine form, none of Anmolpreet Singh, Ricky Bhui (in for Shubman Gill) and Deepak Hooda could make good on their starts.
Spinner Akila Dananjaya bowled an excellent late spell (4-0-15-3) to ensure that even the lower-middle order wouldn’t click, consuming Hooda, skipper Ishan Kishan and Shreyas. Only Mayank Markande’s late flourish, which included two sixes off Priyanjan in the final over, pushed India over 250. In the end, it made very little difference.
“We were 30 to 40 runs short,” said Shreyas after the game. “But credit to Lanka for batting really well. It would have been better if we had won the series 3-1 but still it was a great experience and lot of learnings to take back.”