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Sri Lanka avoid a whitewash – Talking points from Ind vs SL 3rd ODI

Sri Lanka beat India by three wickets in the third ODI at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, which is also the first time they have beaten India in the 50-over format since July 2012. Having won the three-match ODI series 2-0, India made six changes to their playing XI for the third and final game. Five players from the bench strength were handed a debut –Sanju Samson, Nitish Rana, Krishnappa Gowtham, Rahul Chahar and Chetan Sakariya. The sixth change was fielding Navdeep Saini in place of an out of form Bhuvneshwar Kumar. 

The match was reduced to 47 overs per side due to interruption in the form of rain. Batting first, India were bundled out for 225 runs in 43.1 overs. Their bowlers failed to defend the target, as Sri Lanka chased 226 runs with 48 balls remaining after Avishka Fernando and Bhanuka Rajapaksa scored half-centuries. 

The hosts lost the series, but a win in the last ODI earned them ten important points which keeps them alive in the race for direct qualification for the 2023 World Cup. With 12 points from 11 games, Sri Lanka were languishing at the bottom of the World Cup Super League points table before this game. They rank 11th now. 

Let’s take a look at the five talking points from the India vs Sri Lanka, 3rd ODI. 

Shikhar Dhawan’s ‘thigh-five’ celebration

One of India’s best entertainers on the pitch, Captain Shikhar Dhawan was back at it again. You must have seen his ‘thigh-five’ celebration quite a few times after taking a catch, but this time it was after winning the toss. Dhawan lost the toss in the first two ODIs – when Sri Lanka opted to bat first. But he broke the jinx in the final ODI, and was seen slapping his thighs as a celebration. The video left twitter users in splits and match referee Ranjan Madugalle and Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka were also seen laughing. “He’s been waiting since the first game but finally got this opportunity today,” said Ajit Agarkar while commentating for Sony Sports. However, Dhawan didn’t get a chance to celebrate during the game, having been dismissed for 13 runs in the second over. 

Five debutants for India

This is only the third time when India have fielded five debutants in a match. The first instance was in 1980, when Dilip Doshi, Kirti Azad, Roger Binny, Tirumalai Srinivasan and Sandeep Patil made their debut in an ODI against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The second instance came last month, when the Indian women’s cricket team fielded five debutants in the one-off Test against England – Pooja Vastrakar, Deepti Sharma, Tanya Bhatia, Shafali Verma and Sneh Rana.

In the third ODI against Sri Lanka, Sanju Samson, Nitish Rana, Rahul Chahar, Krishnappa Gowtham and Chetan Sakariya made their debut. Samson, who has played seven T20 internationals, had a memorable ODI debut, scoring a run a ball 46. Left-arm batsman Rana, who has made a name for himself in the Indian Premier League, played his first game for India in any format, but gave away his wicket for seven runs after facing 14 balls. Chetan Sakariya, who made his IPL debut earlier this year, picked up two wickets in his debut for India, while K Gowtham picked up one. But the best bowler among the debutants was Rahul Chahar, who picked up three wickets for 54 runs in his full quota of 10 overs. 

Shaw shines again

Opening batsman Prithvi Shaw’s knock of 49 runs was the highest for India in this game. The attacking batsman scored a knock of 43 runs in the first ODI at a strike rate of almost 180 and was also awarded the Player of the Match award. He continued the good form in the third ODI, with a run a ball 49 in which gave India a solid start at the top. This included three fours in four balls off Praveen Jayawickrama’s bowling. India scored 35 runs off the first four overs, and looked good for a huge total. But rain stopped play when the visitors were on 147 for 3, after which they lost momentum. 

Sri Lanka’s comeback into the game

Going by the way India started their innings, being on 147 for 3 after 23 overs, it seemed like they were eyeing a total close to 300 runs. Shaw and Samson were on a song, but India lost momentum after returning from the rain-induced break, reducing from 157 for 3 to 225 all out. India’s middle order had no answers for the Sri Lankan spinners, who took five wickets in the space of 38 runs. On debut, left-arm spin bowler Praveen Jayawickrama sent back Manish Pandey and Hardik Pandya in the space of three overs, and he was well assisted by Akila Dananjaya, who was playing his first match of the series. Dananjaya removed Suryakumar Yadav, Gowtham, and Rana in the space of three overs and five runs. India’s tail could not do much either, with the highest partnership of 29 runs coming between Rahul Chahar and Navdeep Saini. 

Sri Lanka’s second-wicket partnership 

Avishka Fernando and Bhanuka Rajapaksa shared a 109-run second-wicket partnership, which helped Sri Lanka avert a whitewash. While Fernando scored 76 runs off 98 balls, Rajapaksa hit 65 off 56, which is his highest ODI knock. Barring them, no other Sri Lankan batsman could get going. Charith Asalanka scored 24, Ramesh Mendis 15, while the remaining in the batting line-up were dismissed for single digit scores. 

Another notable mention is Suryakumar Yadav’s knock of 40 runs in 37 balls without much support from a second fiddle middle order. The two teams will now play a three-match T20I series, which begins on July 25 at the same venue in Colombo. 

Umaima Saeed
A writer who primarily writes on cricket. As of 2021, she has covered cricket for more than a dozen publications.

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