Five teams, including the men in blue have found the Wankhede Stadium pitch a batting paradise in the previous five Twenty matches, with Afghanistan’s 172, chasing South Africa’s 209 in the 2016 ICC Twenty20 World Cup being the lowest. England posted the highest of 230 for eight wickets when chasing South Africa’s 229 in the same tournament. The high-scoring trend at the 'D' Road venue here was turned upside down when Sri Lanka posted no more than 135 for seven wickets with Dasun Shanaka and Akila Dhananjaya throwing their bat at Mohammed Siraj and raking 18 runs for their side in the last six balls.
Then, India made heavy weather of surpassing the target struggling to find answers against seamers Dushmantha Chameera and Shanaka who manipulated the seam in an expert manner to make it a tight finish.
The match seemed to be going to the wire, but Dinesh Karthik deposited Nuwan Pradeep’s last ball full toss over mid wicket and India heaved a sigh of relief before Karthik and Mahendra Singh Dhoni completed the formalities in the last over, bowled by the Sri Lankan skipper.
Eventually India completed the 3-0 sweep with a five wicket win, but for once the Indian dug out and the near full house appeared quite tense.
The red-soil based pitch here offers some assistance to the seamers and spinners alike, but the wicket prepared by former India opener Sudhir Naik was a far cry from a bowler’s wicket to ring the alarm bells. Though beaten hollow in the first two matches in Cuttack and Indore, Sri Lanka had demonstrated its spirit and strength to hit out during a course of the second wicket partnership in Indore, and playing the last match of the tour without much anxiety to bear, it would have hoped to put up a better display with the bat.
But put into bat for the first time in the three-match series, Sri Lanka saw wickets tumbling at regular intervals to give the upper hand to the home team in early part of action in the first session.
India went into the final match of the series bringing in seamer Mohammed Siraj and offspinner Washington Sundar, who had turned out to the more than a utility bowler for Rising Pune Supergiant in this year’s IPL. While the young slow bowler began the proceeding in a most encouraging manner and even removed Kusal Perera, it was the splendid lines bowled by left hand seamer Jaydev Unadkat that played a significant part in the team batting first being restricted to a modest total.
Unadkat’s 2 for 15 is the best effort (runs conceded) by a bowler at the Wankhede.
Unadkat forced false shots from left hander Niroshan Dickwella and Upul Tharanga and with the openers dispatched to the pavilion quickly, Sri Lanka could not find a way out to get out of the quagmire that it got to in losing six batsmen by the 13th over.
Runs were almost at a premium in the first five overs of the power-play, before the Lanka batsmen scored 27 runs off Siraj, Hardik Pandya and Kuldeep Yadav to start the acceleration.
But the fall of the aggressive Sadeera Samarawickrama and Danushka Gunathilaka brought down the run rate and from threon, it was an uphill task for Asela Gunaratne to singlehandedly work around the Indian bowling in a big way.
Apart from Siraj, who went for 45 from four fours, the other Indian bowlers responded to the decision to field first in fiercely determined manner, but then they were also helped by some poor batting by the visitor.
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