Ranchi T20: All-round India level series against SL

An all-round bowling effort from India chipped away at the batting of Sri Lanka, which limped to 127 for 9 in its chase of 197. India's innings featured a strokeful half-century from opener Shikhar Dhawan, and solid contributions from Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya.

Shikhar Dhawan (right) and Rohit Sharma began India's innings well with an opening stand of 75 runs.   -  PTI

Ravichandran Ashwin was India's most successful bowler, with three wickets.   -  AP

Thisara Perera celebrates one of his three wickets, off three consecutive balls, in the 19th over India's innings.   -  K. R. Deepak

Batting with resolve and bowling with venom, India levelled the series. But more significantly, the host made a timely and firm statement – on a typical sub-continent pitch, this Sri Lankan combination has little chance of winning. Notwithstanding Thisara Perera’s hat-trick in the 19th over, in which he claimed Hardik Pandya, Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh, it was India all the way. Eventually, India cruised to an overwhelming 69-run victory with a commanding display at the packed JSCA Stadium.

>Live Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Local hero Mahendra Singh Dhoni lost the toss but conceded very little thereafter. His men delivered on all counts. Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya and Raina all took turns to punish the bowlers on way to setting a target of 197. Once the chase started, Dhoni turned to Ravichandran Ashwin to start the proceedings and the crafty off-spinner gave the breakthrough in the opening over. From the other end, Ashish Nehra again struck twice upfront to underscore his presence in the side.

With Lanka down to 16 for three and later, 59 for five, the writing was on the wall. Barring an innings or two of extraordinary brilliance, India was not to be denied on this day. Lanka could only manage 127 for 9.

Interestingly, Dhoni chose to use spin for the better part of the innings. In fact, he did not summon the services of Jasprit Bumrah until the 16th over! A retrieving stand of 52 runs did come from skipper Dinesh Chandimal and Chamara Kapugedara before they departed in successive over. But the chase was never really on.

>Listen to Indian skipper M. S. Dhoni's interaction with the media

Clearly, it was a different ball-game from the one seen in Pune earlier in the week. On a pitch where the faster bowlers from Lanka were made to look most ordinary, Indians scored 10 or more runs from 10 overs. As anticipated, Indian openers, particularly Shikhar Dhawan, hit the high gear early. They allowed just eight dot balls in the first six overs and raised 70 runs.

Dhawan’s two sixes – one each in the second and third overs – preceded his seven boundaries. He reached his 50 off 22 deliveries and departed soon after, having done his job.

Dhawan was particularly severe on Kasun Rajitha, who sliced the through the cream of Indian batting at Pune. In the fourth over and Rajitha’s second, Rohit welcomed him with a boundary before Dhawan smashed three more in succession as the over leaked 17 runs!

After Dhawan’s departure, Rohit kept up the pace even as Ajinkya Rahane settled down by smartly rotating the strike. Rohit, who smashed a six over midwicket off the friendly leg-spin of Seekuga Prasanna, departed to a tumbling return catch by Dushmantha Chameera. This meant a wicket for Chameera in each of first two overs.

In the following over, when Rahane mistimed a pull into the waiting hands of Dilshan off Senenayake, Lanka had managed to have to fairly new batsmen in the middle early in the 15th over, with the scoreboard reading 127 for three.

Raina and Pandya had no trouble in taking turns to be part of the blitz. The two raised 59 runs, with Pandya hitting two successive sixes off Senanayake and Raina hitting four boundaries in an over off Chameera. The Indians looked well on course to touch 200 before Thisara’s hat-trick pulled them back a little. But it did not matter.

Man of the Match: Shikhar Dhawan

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