India claim series victory with ease

A confident Team India showed why it is such a hard task to beat them in their own den. Sri Lanka tasted success in the first ODI, but thereafter, India made a powerful comeback to level the series. The decider in Visakhapatnam was an easy victory for the Rohit Sharma-led Team India, as they took the series 2-1. India continued their unbeaten series run against Sri Lankan in 2017 with this series victory.

After losing the toss in the first two ODIs, Rohit Sharma won the one in the final ODI and elected to field, with the possibility of dew at the back of the team’s mind. Jasprit Bumrah, bowling with the new ball, got the early breakthrough for India, that of Gunathilaka. Sri Lanka didn’t get ushered into a corner after the wicket. Instead, the pair of Tharanga & Samarawickrama decided to play positive cricket and runs began to flow off their blades.

Tharanga began the move forward with 5 boundaries off 5 balls off a Hardik Pandya over. He set the tone in the Powerplay, and Samarawickrama showed his wide array of strokes against the quicks and then, against the Indian spinners. A perfect platform was being laid by these two, as India strived hard to break the dangerous stand. Once the pacers made way for the spinners, the duo used their feet to unsettle them.

The Indian spinners were patient and kept flighting the ball, hoping for the batsmen to make a mistake. The first error came when the partnership was 121 runs. Samarawickrama looked to go inside out against Chahal but miscued the ball to Dhawan at deep cover. The centurion from the previous game, Angelo Mathews joined Tharanga, who was inching closer to a well-deserved century.

In the 28th over, Kuldeep Yadav bowled a teasing delivery outside off, enticing a drive by Tharanga. He missed the ball and strayed out of the crease, allowing Dhoni to whip the bails off in a flash. The umpires referred it upstairs, and Tharanga was found short of his ground, to get dismissed five runs short of his ton. Dickwella was sent up the order at number 4. He dispatched Yadav for two boundaries in the same over in an attempt to take the attack to the Indians. However, his joy was short-lived, as he ended up playing an extremely poor stroke. With a slip in place, Dickwella tried to guide the ball fine, but ended up gifting the slip fielder an easy chance that Shreyas Iyer latched on to.

Team India found the opening they were looking for after the fall of these quick wickets. It began a downslide that couldn’t be repaired. Chahal and Yadav cleaned up the rest of the Lankan middle-order with ease, claiming seven wickets around Sri Lanka’s 200-run mark. Asela Gunaratne was left with no support at the other end, as wickets kept falling with increasing frequency.

Gunaratne tried to hang in there with the tail, and play out the 50 overs. However, it wasn’t to be as he became the last man to fall, with the score on 215. After the start they got, Sri Lanka would have been disappointed to end up with such a paltry total. The patience shown by the Indian bowlers paid off eventually. They kept bowling in the right areas until the Lankans threw their wickets away.

The Indian openers strode out confidently in the pursuit of a moderate target. Fresh off his third double century in ODIs, Rohit Sharma couldn’t finish the series on a high, as he got a ripper from Akila Dananjaya. The ball turned and beat Rohit’s bat, to clip the off stump. After the early breakthrough, Sri Lanka didn’t have much to rejoice about.

Shikhar Dhawan & Shreyas Iyer ensured that the Lankan quicks didn’t make any further inroads. Shreyas Iyer backed himself and carried on from where he left off at Mohali. He played freely and picked up boundaries with some stylish shots, full of timing. Dhawan played second-fiddle at first, while Iyer kept on taking risks during the Powerplay.

In no time, Shreyas Iyer got to his second consecutive half-century. He played the Lankan pacers & spinners with equal aplomb. Dhawan began opening his shoulders soon after and completed his half-century as well. The Indians kept on picking easy boundaries, as the Lankans failed to build pressure and claim wickets. The pair brought up their 100-run stand, the way Sri Lanka’s second wicket built the innings for the team.

Shreyas Iyer fell to a shortish delivery when he tried to force a pull shot through mid-wicket. The ball hit high up on his bat, and lobbed away to the fielder at mid-on. The 135-run stand came to an end, but India were in the driving seat nevertheless. In came Dinesh Karthik to accompany Shikhar Dhawan. The southpaw escaped a run-out appeal, while Karthik was given out lbw that got him reviewing the decision right away. Replays showed an inside edge and he got the opportunity to continue his innings.

Shikhar Dhawan achieved a milestone in his ODi career, when he went past 4000 runs. He is the sixth fastest overall and the second fastest Indian to get there. He went about sensinly in his innings and when the target was within 50 runs of India’s reach, he played a few aggressive shots. Dhawancruised past 70 and 80 with a flurry of boundaries, and closed in on a well-deserved century.

The left-handed dasher got to his 12th ODI ton, and batted right through the chase, guiding India to the series victory. Rohit couldn’t get among the runs, but this time Dhawanstood up and ensured that India didn’t falter early in the chase.

Sri Lanka’s worrying record against India in bilateral series continued. They haven’t won one since 1997. In recent years, India have beaten them comprehensively, without breaking much sweat. They seemed good in one game, but couldn’t keep it up for the rest of the series. Rohit Sharma’s first ever series as Team India’s captain turned into a successful one. He saw his team lose the first game quite badly, but stayed strong and came back hard with a magnificent performance with his bat, and the team pulled their socks up as well. India maintained their unbeaten series-run in this home season. The next assignment is a 3-match T20I series which begins with the first game on Wednesday, 20th December.


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