Sep 03, 2017
By MI Media
When it rains, it pours. That innocuous statement rings truer than ever at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo where the visiting Indian tide swept over a struggling Sri Lanka, whitewashing them 5-0. Facing flak from all sides, the hosts fought till the end but proved ineffectual against the might of an all-round Indian showing.
The start of the final ODI was delayed, as it was raining earlier and the covers were on. The toss was pushed to 2:30 PM local time, but just when the captains walked out for the toss, it started drizzling again. However, it lasted only for a few minutes! The toss went in the hosts’ favour this time, and Sri Lanka opted to bat first. Virat Kohli said he would have batted first as well, which was surprising as teams usually opt to bowl first in a rain-affected game. The hosts just made one change – the captain Upul Tharanga, who returned for this game, replaced Kusal Mendis. Team India made four changes though. KL Rahul, Axar Patel, Hardik Pandya and Shikhar Dhawan sat out. Ajinkya Rahane, Kedar Jadhav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Yuzvendra Chahal came in to the playing XI.
Russel Arnold mentioned at the pitch report that there will be a grass cover, and that it will be good to bat on, but it won’t be that high-scoring a game. The batsmen will have to work hard and if it rains heavily, there could be no chance for a result today. However, there would still be a reserve day.
The skipper Upul Tharanga smashed a couple of boundaries at the start to give the hosts a positive start. Bhuvneshwar Kumar halted the Lankan progress when he got the breakthrough for Team India. Niroshan Dickwella chipped one back to the bowler and Kumar accepted it with glee. Tharanga kept dealing in boundaries off Shardul Thakur, in particular. Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s knuckle ball gave the visitors their second wicket when Dilshan Munaweera smashed one towards mid-off. Virat Kohli fielding there, kept his eyes on the ball, back-pedalled and took a brilliant catch.
Upul Tharanga looked in great touch but missed out on his fifty by just two runs. Jasprit Bumrah got the danger-man when he squared him up and the Lankan skipper was out, caught behind. It was a promising knock by Tharanga, who scored 48 runs off just 34 balls and included 9 boundaries.
The first ball of the 25th over was skied towards third man off a leading edge, but Kedar Jadhav fielding at third man picked it at the last moment and the ball fell short of him. Lahiru Thirimanne continued his good run of form and hit a fluent fifty. He knew the job wasn’t done though, and Sri Lanka needed to accelerate, if they were to put up a strong total on the board. The Indian bowlers were mixing it up in the middle overs, the spinners tried several variations but to no avail. Chahal was nicely tossing it up and kept asking questions of the batsmen.
Mathews and Thirimanne kept frustrating the Indian bowlers and added the highest partnership of the series for the hosts. It was an important partnership in the context of the game. A couple of overs later, Angelo Mathews brought up his fifty as well! The much-needed breakthrough for India came when Lahiru Thirimanne dragged one back onto his stumps off Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s bowling, to give him his third wicket of the match.
The former skipper joined Thirimanne in the dressing room when he attempted a lap sweep shot, a tad too early and paid the price. It was a wrong ‘un by Kuldeep Yadav and went off the leading edge, up in the air. Dhoni got under it and took a safe catch. Things worsened when Hasaranga got run out in the very next over. Dhoni’s presence of mind did the trick as he quickly threw the ball at the bowler’s end to run the batsman out, seconds after an opportunity went down. Sri Lanka suffered run outs throughout the series and they are on top of the unwanted list, this year when it comes to suffering from the most run outs in ODIs. India have affected the most run-outs in this calendar year. The Lankans simply fell apart and started losing wickets in a bunch.
MS Dhoni became the first wicket-keeper to effect 100 stumpings in ODIs when he dismissed Akila Dhanajaya off Chahal’s bowling. The hosts kept losing wickets as Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar ran through the tail and dismissed the Lankans for just 238. They lost the plot completely after the Mathews-Thirimanne partnership and failed to capitalize on posting a strong total. They lost 7 wickets for 53 runs and the Indian team had the momentum with them yet again. Bhuvneshwar Kumar finished with a 5-wicket haul and his best bowling figures in ODIs. The pacer didn’t pick a single wicket in the series and grabbed a 5-fer today.
All Sri Lanka needed was an early wicket and Lasith Malinga provided one when Ajinkya Rahane mistimed a climbing delivery in the deep. Dilshan Munaweera fielding in the deep, fumbled a couple of times before taking the catch. Rohit’s stay was cut short, thanks to a stunning catch by Pushpakumara at short fine leg. The opener attempted a ramp shot, realizing the fine leg was inside the circle but the ball was quite wide of him. It went towards Pushpakumara who did extremely well to hold on to the catch and Vishwa Fernando had a wicket to his name too.
Virat Kohli then quickly switched the momentum back in India’s favour. He was scoring runs at a quick rate and India were suddenly cruising once again in their run chase. He kept dealing in boundaries and along with Manish Pandey, shared a superb partnership. The Indian skipper crossed 50 in style and was making batting look too easy in yet another run chase.
Pushpakumara broke the 99-run stand when Pandey went for the slog sweep but only managed to top edge the ball towards mid-wicket. Tharanga took a safe catch and Sri Lanka needed to come back strongly from this stage. Virat Kohli shared another solid stand with Kedar Jadhav and was racing away to his second consecutive ton. He also surpassed 1000 ODI runs in 2017, and simply looked hungry for more runs. Kedar Jadhav brought up almost a run-a-ball fifty as the Indian team inched closer towards another victory.
Virat Kohli eventually brought up his 30th ODI ton, which took him alongside Ricky Ponting for the joint-second most centuries in the ODI history. Only one player has more tons than Kohli and that is none other than Sachin Tendulkar. It was just another day in the office for the Indian skipper who looked confident and fluent throughout the knock. With just two runs required, Kedar Jadhav was out caught behind off Hasaranga. Dhoni walked in and quite poetically, completed the proceedings as India romped home with a 6-wicket victory and handed Sri Lanka another whitewash.
A 3-0 series win in Tests was followed by a 5-0 win in the ODIs for India, and now just the one-off T20I is left. Can the Indian team end the tour unbeaten? Come 6th September, Wednesday, we will have the answer.