Shikhar Dhawan’s brilliant, unbeaten 100 (85b, 13 x 4, 2 x 6) helped India continue its winning streak at home as Rohit Sharma-led team scored an emphatic, eight-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the third and final one-dayer to clinch the three-match series 2-1 at the Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy Stadium here on Sunday.
It was a thoroughly brilliant all-round performance which ensured that Lankans dismal record of never winning a ODI series in India remains intact!
This was also the eighth consecutive bilateral series win for the Indians since 2016 June.
Chasing a modest target of 216, India was off to a dismal start with Rohit Sharma clean bowled by offie Akila Dananjaya completely missing the line of the ball as he offered a lose defensive shot in the fourth over of the innings.
However, but for that big blow early, the Lankan bowlers never really posed any serious threat to the Indian batsmen later on.
Dhawan, who scored his 12 ODI century and also crossed the 4000 mark in the process, and the exciting Shreyas Iyer put on 135 runs which dented any hopes Lankans of coming back into the game. That was also the partnership when the more experienced Dhawan let the young Shreyas be more dominant.
To his credit, Shreyas played some brilliant strokes on either side of the wicket like the flowing cover drive off Angelo Mathews and the huge six off left-arm spinner Sachith Pathirana over mid-wicket.
And, again like in Mohali, the well-set Shreyas failed to convert a solid start into a three-figure mark when he mistimed an audacious pull stroke off Thisara Perera to be caught at mid-on.
At the other end, 32-year-old Dhawan was, however, more composed if not subdued at the same time coming up with his trademark strokes to ensure that India reached the target comfortably in the company of Dinesh Karthik.
Earlier, Sri Lankan innings withered away despite a second-wicket century stand of 121 between opener Upul Tharanga and Sadeera Samarawickrama.
Then, the master strategist M.S. Dhoni’s amazing ability to pull things back under pressure was very much evident when Tharanga was going great guns even after losing Sadeera who holed out to the deep cover off leggie Yuzvendra Chahal.
First, Mahendra Singh Dhoni effected a brilliant stumping when the dangerous Tharanga was marginally caught off balance by chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav. Then, in the same over he walked down the pitch to have a word with the bowler after he was late cut for two fours by Niroshan Dickwella. Apparently, on the advice of Dhoni, Kuldeep spun one away a little bit wider from Dickwella only to force the batsman this time around play straight into Shreyas Iyer’s hands at slip.
This double-blow by Kuldeep in the 28 over effectively saw Lanka slip from 160 for two to 168 for four and brought India back into the game just when Tharanga was threatening to tear apart — combining elegance and raw power.
It was a classy knock by Tharanga during which he treated pacer Hardik Pandya with disdain -hitting five fours in his second over. And, the way he hit even leggie Yuzvendra Chahal for three sixes spoke of his technical competence in handling both pace and spin.
The Tharanga-Samarawickrama stand also saw the Indian pacers struggle, with the exception of Jasprit Bumrah.
Later, Chahal provided a big breakthrough cleaning up the in-form Angelo Mathews, who missed a leg-break completely offering a defensive shot in the 34 over and then removed in his next over the Sri Lankan captain Thisara Perera, who shuffled across to cut a leg-break only to miss the line to be trapped lbw to leave Lankans struggling at 197 for six in 35.4 overs.
After this, the innings lost direction and momentum to be eventually bowled out for a disappointing score with Chahal and Kuldeep responding to the team’s cause in style taking three wickets apiece.