Sri Lanka failed to capitalize on a superb early foundation of a second wicket alliance of 121 runs between Upul Tharanga and Sadeera Samarawickrema who made 95 and 42 with the rest caving in as India won the decisive third and final ODI by two wickets at at Visakhapatnam yesterday. Sri Lanka made 215 in 44.5 overs at a run rate of 4.79. India reached the target off only 32.1 overs making 216 for 2 propelled by a 85-ball 100 by Shikhar Dhawan and 65 by S. Iyer off 63 inclusive of 8 boundaries and a six who shared in a 135-run alliance for the second wicket.
India took the series 2-1 for an eighth series win in a row at that level.
Despite the early loss of Danushka Gunathilaka for 13 with the total on 15 Tharanga and Samarawickrema, who replaced an out of form Lahiru Thirimanne, set the tone in a flurry of strokes off 17.2 overs at 6.3 runs an over. At that stage Sri Lanka was in sight of a sizable score at the fall of Samarawickrema’s wicket caught by Dhawan off Chahal. From there the rot set in with Tharanga who played the Indian bowling authoritatively losing his way for 95 stumped by Dhoni off Kuldeep Yadav for 95. The prize wicket of Tharanga with the total on 160 in the first ball of the 28th over saw India make inroads with Sri Lanka losing 6 wickets for 48 runs.
From there only Angelo Mathews and Asela Gunaratne reached double figures making 17 apiece which indicated the stranglehold India took on the match after the dismissals of Tharanga and Samarawickrema. Tharanga struck 12 boundaries and 3 sixes in his 82-ball knock and and it was a pity that that the other specialist batsmen could not live up to expectations. Samarawickrema’s innings off 57 balls and spanning 5 boundaries was praiseworthy given his little ODi experience in contrast to the more experienced batsmen. India reined in on the spin of Kuldeep Yadav who claimed 3 for 42 and Y. S. Chahal 3 for 46 with H.H. Pandya taking 2 for 49.
India’s run chase was mounted on Dhawan’s belligerent stroke play as the left hander compensated for the early loss of skipper Rohit Sharma who was bowled by Akila Dananjaya for 7 with the total on 14.
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-