Ambati Rayudu's unbeaten maiden ODI century fashioned India's six-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the second ODI at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad. Finishing off in style the batsman hit the winning boundary to attain the 275-run target with 33 balls to spare and lead the hosts to a 2-0 lead in the five-match ODI series. Stats Highlights, India vs SL, 2nd ODI)
Promoted to No.3, Rayudu rose to the challenge and scored 121 off 118 balls after coming to the crease at 18/1. He was involved in a 122-run stand with Shikhar Dhawan (79) to set-up the innings and then built a 116-run partnership with Virat Kohli to ensure the team a comfortable win.
Angelo Mathews’ unbeaten 92 after coming in to bat at 64/3, had taken the visitors to 274/8. After stitching a crucial 90-run partnership with Kumar Sangakkara (61) the SL captain anchored the innings and was also aided by Dhammika Prasad in a 54-run ninth-wicket unbroken partnership late in the innings to take the visitors to a modest total.
While chasing the modest target, a brilliant effort by Mahela Jayawardene sent Rahane back early in the chase. Dhammika Prasad induced an outside edge off the opener's willow and although Kumar Sangakkara behind the wickets failed to hold on to the ball, Jayawardene at first slip ensured the visitors a vital breakthrough diving to his left.
Rayudu then replaced the opener in the middle and joined forces with Dhawan to negotiate the Sri Lankan bowling. Kept on a tight leash by the Mathews-led attack the host’s batsmen scraped together runs to keep the scoreboard moving. With runs coming mostly in singles, India’s fifty came up in the 15th over with Rayudu picking a single off Suraj Randiv.
In an effort to break the shackles, the right-hand bat lofted Randiv over long-on for six as they worked to increase the run-rate as the partnership began to take shape. Having taken a measure of the opposition bowlers, the pair looked to milk them for runs. As the innings progressed, both batsmen whacked Seekkuge Prasanna for boundaries on either side of the wicket as they claimed 13 runs off him. In the following over, Dhawan pulled Prasad to the fence to reach his fifty and in the next over smashed Thisara Perera over long-off for six and took the team to the three-figure mark with a boundary. Runs were flowing for India as the left-hand batsman hit the ball to all parts of the ground as they collected 16 from the over.
With wickets in hand the pair plundered runs off the Sri Lankan batsmen and upped the run-rate. Rayudu too brought up his half-century off 58 balls as he partnered Dhawan in taking India closer to the target. But while on 79 the left-hand opener swept Prasanna to Priyanajan and departed.
With the home team still 135 runs away from the target, Kohli walked out to the middle. With his captain at the other end, Rayudu continued to milk the bowlers as he inched towards his maiden ODI century. The batsman brought up the landmark off 101 balls with a single to Thisara Perera.
With victory within sight, Kohli took on the SL attack and launched Perera over extra cover for six while Rayudu too continued his onslaught. But, a forward diving catch by Randiv dismissed the India skipper for 49.
Suresh Raina then added a quick-fire 14 before returning to the dressing room. With five runs needed, Ravindra Jadeja then joined Rayudu and took the team across the line.
Earlier in the Sri Lankan innings, coming to the crease in the 14th over after electing to bat, Mathews played a vital knock and re-built the innings with Kumar Sangakkara after losing the top-order early.
Kusal Perera who had replaced Upul Tharanga in the side was trapped leg-before by Umesh Yadav in a wicket-maiden first over.
Sangakkara and Tillakratane Dilshan then worked to lay a foundation for a respectable total. The pair watchfully garnered ones and twos with an odd boundary on the way to stitch a partnership. In the 10th over Dilshan claimed 17 runs off Ravichandran Ashwin including four boundaries as they looked to step up the momentum. He stepped out to the off-spinner smacking over cover, straight back over his head and down the leg-side. With 18 runs from the over, the tourists had posted 53/1 at the end of the first powerplay.
However, in the following over Akshar Patel bowled Dilshan with a quicker delivery that knocked the off and middle stump. And Jayawardene followed him back after adding just four to the total; striking Ashwin to Rayudu at deep midwicket.
Mathews and Sangakkara then set about the task of reviving the innings. And with the partnership looking stable, the visitors took the batting powerplay in the 32nd over. However during the five over period they lost three wickets and undid the good work.
Sangakkara was the first to return to the pavilion. After diligently working his way to 61, the left-hand batsman departed hitting Yadav to Dhawan at long-on.
Prasanna looking to sweep Ravindra Jadeja was then caught at deep backward square leg by Rayudu. Batsmen departed playing shots in pursuit of big hits to accelerate the scoring and add quick runs to the tally.
Ashan Priyanjan was the next wicket to fall as he was run-out by a combined effort of Rayudu and Jadeja. Rayudu had done well to come in from the boundary and throw the ball to Jadeja who flicked off the bails. The Indian fielders did a commendable job to save runs and boundaries as the hosts looked to restrict the opposition.
Even as wickets fell at regular intervals Mathews rallied on. He swept Jadeja in the 40th over for three successive boundaries while Thisara Perera slammed the spinner for a straight six. In the next over though, Patel brought back into the attack sent back the hard-hitting all-rounder.
Looking for a big-hit, Thisara missed and found his stumps disrupted. And couple of overs later Randiv was castled by Ashwin.
With over six overs left and the team on 220/8, Prasad joined his captain and played a cameo while ensuring that the team wasn’t bowled out. In a 54-run unbroken stand he took on the bowlers to score 30 off 28 and help the team to a decent total.
India win by 6 wickets.
India 275 for 4 (Rayudu 121*, Dhawan 79) beat Sri Lanka 274 for 8 (Mathews 92*, Sangakkara 61, Akshar 2-39) by six wickets
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