India took an unassailable 3-0 lead with a six-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the third ODI at Hyderabad. After Mahela Jayawardene (118) had helped the visitors to 242 with an exquisite century, Shikhar Dhawan led India’s chase with a blistering 91; while Virat Kohli slammed 53 and in the process became the fastest to reach 6000 runs in ODIs. The Umesh Yadav-led Indian attack had bowled SL out for a sub-par total as the pacer claimed a maiden four-for to put the visitors in a spot of bother. He was ably supported by Axar Patel who picked three as they wrapped up the visitors’ innings for 242. Stats Highlights, India vs SL, 3rd ODI
Earlier, Yadav dealt early blows to leave the visitors reeling on 7/2 after Sri Lanka opted to bat once again in the series. The young pacer sent back Kusal Perera with a short of length delivery that took the edge of the bat and was caught by Wriddhiman Saha off the last ball of the first over; and was on a hat-trick with the wicket of Kumar Sangakkara. The veteran batsman edged Yadav to first slip to return for a duck while Jayawardene defended the hat-trick delivery and went on to play a vital knock for the team.
The visitors would have lost Tillakratane Dilshan too had Saha been able to pull off a difficult catch after Ishant Sharma had induced and edge off the opener a bit later.
The two senior players then stitched a partnership to build the Sri Lankan innings. Biding their time at the crease they steadily garnered runs as they shaped the innings. The batsmen reached their respective half-centuries as the partnership blossomed. The third-wicket stand was worth 105 when Ambati Rayudu’s part-time off-spin came gave India the much needed breakthrough. Dilshan looking to hit the local lad over extra cover was caught by Ajinkya Rahane who had to leap for the catch high in the air to end the partnership that was threatening to take the advantage away from India.
The Sri Lankan captain, Angelo Mathews then came out to bat and five overs later took the batting power play. The powerplay and Axar Patel proved to be SL’s undoing as three wickets fell in quick succession pushing them on to the back foot.
Mathews departed top-edging the spinner towards mid-off and in Patel’s next over Ashan Priyanjan hit him to mid-on. Chaturanga de Silva was Patel’s next wicket while looking to clear extra cover. With just 16 runs from the five overs for three wickets, the visitors were struggling on 154 for six at the end of it.
An over later, Thisara Perera too perished hitting Yadav to extra cover leaving the team on 158/7.
While wickets were falling in a heap at the other end, Jayawardene continued to hold on the other end majestically. He took his chances against the Indian fielders as he ran risky singles to keep the score board ticking and entertained with some breathtaking shots. He deftly dismissed deliveries to the boundary preferring the leg-side even as he collected runs all round the ground.
Sri Lanka’s batting woes did not cease as Seekkuge Prasanna who had replaced Thisara in the middle survived before opening his account as Suresh Raina was unable to grasp the difficult chance in the slips.
In an effort to prolong the innings and avert being bowled out Jayawardene farmed the strike and and negotiated the Indian attack. He brought up his 17th ODI century with a slog-sweep off Patel over the ropes and continued to go past 1200 runs in the format.
His remarkable innings under trying circumstances ended for 118 after being stumped by wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha.
It was all downhill for the tourists from there on. Yadav disrupted Prasanna’s woodwork to return with his maiden four-wicket haul and best ODI figures of 4/53. With 19 balls left in the innings Lahiru Gamage came to the crease. However, in the penultimate over, Nuwan Kulsekara holed out and was caught by Rahane off Kulkarni to end the Sri Lankan with 10 balls remaining in their quota of overs.
Ajinkya Rahane and Dhawan then milked the opposition bowlers to get India off to good start. They cut and drove the ball as they found the boundary at regular intervals while chasing the target. Scoring at a brisk pace the pair had taken India to 58 without loss at the end of the first powerplay.
With India on 62, Rahane gloved a short ball from Thisara to Jayawardene in the slips and returned to the dressing room for 31. India’s Man of the Match in the second ODI, Ambati Rayudu then joined Dhawan in the middle and the duo scored in singles as the SL bowlers bowled a tight line.
Thisara continued to bowl short and plugged the flow of runs and was well complemented by Prasanna. But the Indian batsmen soon broke the shackles with Rayudu finding the boundary in the third-man region off de Silva. As they resumed gleaning runs off the tourists attack with gusto, Dhawan became the fastest Indian to 2000 runs in the 50-over format and off the following delivery lofted de Silva over deep mid-wicket for six to reach his half-century.
Even as India were cruising towards the target, Rayudu was run out in a mix-up with Dhawan as the opener stayed his ground and both batsmen found themselves at the non-striker’s end. The opener continued to accumulate runs. He smacked Gamage over the head for four and Kohli smashed the bowler to deep mid-wicket to add four more a ball later. And then brought up the team’s 150-run mark with another boundary.
Both batsmen clobbered the Sri Lankan attack as they inched towards the target at a quick pace. Dhawan’s march towards a second ton in the series was halted nine runs short of the mark by a Kulasekara bouncer which grazed the opener’s helmet and was caught by Sangakkara behind the stumps.
Kohli and Raina then joined forces to take India to yet another comprehensive victory. In the process the India captain reached his fifty and with it reached the commendable milestone. However, he perished taking the aerial route. The left-hand batsman and Saha then attained the target with 35 balls to spare.
Man of the match:
India 245 for 4 (Dhawan 91, Kohli 53) beat Sri Lanka 242 (Jayawardene 118, Dilshan 53, Yadav 4-53, Akshar 3-40) by six wickets
Mahela: "I am surprised and a bit embarrassed to win the Man of the Match.We need to be consistent in our overall game. The way the Indians are playing, we need 300 to put them under pressure, and we are not there yet. They are putting us under lot of pressure, picking early wickets, putting us on the back foot straight away, and we are doing repair work after that."
Kohli: "That was a brilliant performance, especially with the ball, given we were one bowler short, had to string in six overs from part-timers, to restrict them to 242 was fantastic. I was not sure, I knew I had to get to 50 to get 6000, but I did not know how much faster I was from the great man [Viv Richards]. I am trying to do whatever I can on the field for the boys."
Mathews: "We flopped in our batting once again. You cannot keep repeating mistakes. 300 is a must for Indian wickets. 240 is nothing for bowlers to bowl at. About three-four wickets fell in the Powerplay with minimum runs, which went against us. We are trying our combinations, we want to recognise our strengths and weaknesses going into the World Cup."
Dhawan: "Happy the way I was batting. Batting in a very controlled manner, enjoying the rhythm. Earlier I was getting 25-30s, now I am getting 80-90s. Once I get set, I will bat according to the situation. At times you can hit big shots, but you dont want to because of the situation."