Rohit, Rahul steamroll Sri Lanka, take India to series win

Rohit Sharma scored his second Twenty20 International century and K. L. Rahul scored 89 as India defeated Sri Lanka by 88 runs in the second T20 in Indore.

Rohit Sharma scored his second Twenty20 International, the joint fastest in the format.   -  PTI

The boundaries were short; the outfield was wet, making it tougher for bowlers to grip the ball. And the Holkar Stadium pitch was at its flattest.

Still, when Thisara Perera inserted India in to bat in the second Twenty20 international, he would have hoped for Sri Lanka to be chasing a 200-ish target to keep the series alive. Instead, Rohit Sharma and K. L. Rahul tormented a lacklustre Sri Lankan attack in ideal conditions for batting to seal the series with an emphatic opening partnership. It was another comprehensive for the host, this time by 88 runs.

Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Sharma's second Twenty20 International (T20I) hundred – the joint-fastest in all of T20Is, coming in just 35 balls – broke the backbone of Sri Lanka's attack and Rahul's rollicking 89 then ensured the statisticians were kept in an overdrive. Despite Sri Lanka pulling things back in the death, picking four wickets in the last 10 balls, a gargantuan total of 260 for five was virtually going to be unassailable. Upul Tharanga and Kusal Perera ensured Sri Lanka avoided a meek surrender like the one in Cuttack two nights earlier. Despite tallying 172 for nine – Angelo Mathews did not bat after limping out of the field while bowling the 12th over of India's innings – the visiting team couldn't desist India from running away with the series.

 

The moment Sharma stood straight on his front-foot and lofted Mathews over mid-wicket for a front-foot pull off the fifth ball of the match, one sensed the captain was on to a special innings. And for the next hour or so, Sharma continued to convert the Holkar arena into box cricket, where he marauded the Lankan bowlers.

READ: We will carry the confidence to South Africa, says Rohit

It took him the fifth over to clear the boundary for the first time with a pull off Nuwan Pradeep. That set the tone for the next eight overs. When Akila Dananjaya's unorthodox spin was introduced, he was sent packing over mid-off. Thisara was welcomed with a cut over point, Chathuranga de Silva was welcomed with a drive and a cut off the first two balls he bowled and Asela Gunaratne's only over saw Sharma following successive boundaries with as many sixes.

Carnage

If that was not enough, Thisara bore the brunt again as Sharma continued to dominate the battle of the leaders with four sixes in the 11th over to inch closer to a record hundred. The Hitman then equalled the fastest hundred record with a disdainful cover drive off Mathews to take his helmet off and acknowledge a packed stadium that paid a compliment to him by glowing cell-phone torches all over the stands.

 

Once Sharma had reached the landmark, Rahul returned to the golf-hitting prowess that he had showed in plenty in the Powerplay overs. Having been dropped off Sadeera Samarawickrama on 6 off Angelo Mathews in the third over, Rahul decided to keep hitting in the ‘V’. And the stylish opener clubbed virtually everything that was pitched fuller with the accuracy of a golfer.

READ: Fastest century, highest total, most number of sixes and other stats from the match

Had it not been for Niroshan Dickwella's stunning catch – diving to his right to pouch a thick edge off Rahul's willow – India could well have had two centurions in a T20I innings. Despite missing the landmark, Rahul had ensured India had taken the game out of Sri Lanka's hands.

The Sri Lankan top-order then rectified its mistakes in Cuttack, with Tharanga playing the pacers well and Perera going after Kuldeep Yadav early in the innings. The duo's 109-run partnership for the second wicket kept Sri Lanka afloat in the game. However, once Tharanga miscued a slog to offer Yuzvendra Chahal a skier off his own bowling in the 14th over, the middle-order crumbed against the wrist-spin duo, leading to a dramatic collapse. The team did not last the full quota for the second time in succession, losing eight wickets for 27 runs to go 2-0 down.