Brief scores: India: 277/7 (Deepak Chahar 69*, Suryakumar Yadav 53, Manish Pandey 37; Wanindu Hasaranga 3/37) beat Sri Lanka: 275/9 (Charith Asalanka 65, Avishka Fernando 50, Chamika Karunaratne 44*; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 3/54) by 3 wickets
An epic finish at the R Premadasa International Cricket Stadium saw India beat hosts Sri Lanka by the skin of their teeth to clinch the three-match One Day International series, with one match left to play.
The visitors — India — chased down the total of 276 runs in the second match with five balls to spare. Pacers Deepak Chahar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar shared a match-winning partnership of 84 runs for the eighth wicket to ensure a win for the Men in Blue. Earlier in the day, Sri Lanka had posted 275/9 with the help of fifties from Avishka Fernando and Charith Asalanka. Bhuvneshwa and Yuzvendra Chahal, meanwhile, took three wickets each in the first innings.
Let us take a look at the talking points from the match
India get out of jail
No one can deny this, but Sri Lanka had India by the collar. Chasing 276, the visitors were 116/5 at one stage. When nine-down batsman Bhuvneshwar Kumar joined Deepak Chahar in the middle, Team India still had 83 runs to get from 89 balls.
But like so many times in the past, the Indians refused to be beaten. Chahar, who had just one List A half-century to his name before Tuesday’s innings, fought like a rockstar, to produce one of the finest limited-over innings in recent times. The pacer was ably supported by Bhuvneshwar, who himself is no muck with the bat, in the high-pressure chase. The two lower-order batsmen batted doggedly but with intelligence, stealing singles, hitting the occasional boundaries to reach their target, almost comfortably in the end to script an unlikely win for the ‘second-string’ Indian team.
Sri Lankan openers at ease
Earlier in the day, Sri Lanka surprised everyone by choosing to bat first after winning the toss. Openers Avishka Fernando and Minos Bhanuka started in a similar fashion to the first ODI. There was, however, more intent from the Island Nation’s openers this time around. Meanwhile, for India, the issue of not picking up wickets early continued to haunt them as the Sri Lankan openers went about their innings. The 77-run stand was finally broken by the leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal who dismissed Minod for a well-made 36.
A minor blip, but Lankans continue
No sooner had the first wicket fallen, Dhanuka Rajapaksa bagged a first-ball duck and suddenly India were back in the game. The Indian spinners then began to strangle the hosts in the middle just like the opening match. Avishka, however, stuck it out to reach a hard-fought fifty only to throw it away soon. Attempting to attack Bhuvneshwar Kumar, he spooned one straight up with Krunal Pandya holding on to the dolly.
Sri Lankan batsmen waste starts
Dhananjaya de Silva, like many other Sri Lankan batsmen, wasted yet another start after scoring 32 to leave his team at 134/4 in the 28th over. Dasun Shanaka and Wanindu Hasaranga, meanwhile, got out without contributing much and with more than 10 overs to go, the Island Nation had only four wickets in hand.
Hammer and tongs for Lankans at the end
It was, however, Charith Asalanka, who found a perfect ally in Chamika Karunaratne to solidify the Lankan innings. The duo added 50 runs for the seventh wicket as Asalanka got to his half-century, while Chamika impressed at the death with his unbeaten 44 from 33. The late power-attack propelled Sri Lanka to a competitive 275 runs for the loss of nine wickets.
For India Bhuvneshwar and Chahal picked up three wickets each while Deepak Chahar picked up a couple. Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav, meanwhile, went wicketless while conceding 55 runs.
Horror start for India
Team India began the run chase with a shocker as they lost the two young guns cheaply. Prithvi Shaw and Ishan Kishan had killed the chase inside the first 15 overs a couple of days back, but could only muster 13 runs on Tuesday night at the Premadasa. Shaw began in typical fashion, hitting three boundaries to get off the mark. His innings was, however, short-lived as Sri Lanka’s decision of introducing spin early paid dividends. Wanindu Hasaranga’s googly couldn’t be read by Shaw as he ended up losing his off-stump. Kishan then departed for a duck when he dragged a delivery from Kasun Rajitha onto his stumps.
Sri Lanka take control
Skipper Shikhar Dhawan looked in his elements again despite the two early wickets but Hasaranga came back to dismiss the Delhi-based opener. Initially adjudged not out after getting rapped on the pads, the fielding side took an excellent review to reverse the decision. Manish Pandey, who also looked in great rhythm striking at over 100, had to walk back to the pavilion after an unlucky run out.
The Lankans then took total control of the match when Hardik Pandya played a length delivery with hard hands to chip one straight to midwicket for a duck. India still needed 160 runs to win with half the side already back in the pavilion.
SKY and Pandya fight a long battle
Suryakumar Yadav continued to fight though at the other end and helped himself to a fluent fifty, playing extravagant shots all around the wicket. The other Pandya, Krunal, stuttered but managed to hang in there to get the chase back on track. However, Sri Lanka struck again with Lakshan Sandakan making a crucial breakthrough by trapping Suryakumar LBW and a few overs later, Hasaranga castled Krunal to take Sri Lanka within touching distance to a much-needed win.
Chahar and Kumar’s heroics seal win for India
Deepak Chahar and Bhuvneshwar tried rebuilding the innings after Krunal’s dismissal. The duo played the long game and only broke the shackles with a massive six off Sandakan in the 43rd over. Chahar followed it up with two more boundaries in the next over to not only get to his fifty, but also bring the required rate below six.
The two batters then watchfully played out Hasaranga’s final two overs, while taking their chances against the seamers at the other end. The ploy worked out well with Sri Lanka running out of time to break the partnership. Some streaky boundaries added to the host’s woes as eased India’s path to victory eventually eased as they reached the target with five balls to spare.
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