The three-match ODI series between India and Sri Lanka was evenly poised heading into the last encounter at Vishakhapatnam. Considering the pattern with which the first two matches had panned out, it was silly to predict anything.
Sri Lanka had annihilated India by 7 wickets with 176 balls to spare in the ODI series opener at Dharamsala while the Men in Blue had bounced back emphatically in the second ODI at Mohali to register a thumping 141-run victory at the back of stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma’s record extending third ODI double century.
In contrast to Dharamsala and Mohali, Indian captain Rohit Sharma won the toss in Visakhapatnam and put the visitors to bat first with the hope of some early wickets. Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah backed the skipper’s decision by getting rid of Lankan opener Danushka Gunathilaka in the 4th over, but the experienced campaigner Upul Tharanga seemed to be in a different mood as he slammed 5 consecutive boundaries in the 9th over off Hardik Pandya.
Tharanga shared a 121-run stand for the second wicket with Sadeera Samarawickrama before India’s wrist spinning duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav turned things around. Chahal dismissed Samarawickrama in the 23rd over on 42 whereas Kuldeep and Dhoni’s combined brilliance got the better of well settled Tharanga on 95. Chahal dismissed Samarawickrama in the 23rd over on 42 while Kuldeep struck twice in the 27th over to help India bounce back. First, he got the prize scalp of Tharanga for 95 thanks to a smart piece of work by MS Dhoni behind the stumps and then he got rid of Niroshan Dickwella edging to slips.
Two wickets in quick session dented Sri Lanka heavily and the visitors couldn’t quite recover from it. Kuldeep and Chahal shared 6 wickets between them as Sri Lanka got bundled out for 215 in 44.5 overs. The fast bowling duo of Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah chipped in with one wicket each whereas all-rounder Hardik Pandya come back well in the later stages to claim the wickets of Sachith Pathirana and Suranga Lakmal.
Chasing the paltry target of 216, India didn’t get an ideal start as they lost their skipper and the double-centurion of the last match Rohit Sharma for just 7. However, the early dismissal of Rohit didn’t create any panic in the hosts camp, with seasoned campaigner Shikhar Dhawan and rookie Shreyas Iyer notching up their respective fifties. The 135-run stand between Dhawan and Iyer (65) had almost sealed the deal for India before Shikhar (100*) and Dinesh Karthik (26*) completed the formalities with an unbeaten 70-run partnership.
Thanks to a collective team effort, Indian won the series-deciding ODI by 8 wickets with 107 balls to spare and thereby clinched the three-match series ODI series 2-1. For his incredible bowling figures of 10-0-42-3 in the crucial stage of the game, Kuldeep Yadav was deservedly adjudged Man of the Match while opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan was adjudged Man of the Series for scoring 168 runs in 3 innings at a phenomenal average of 84.
Sri Lanka – 215/10 in 44.5 overs (Upul Tharanga – 95, Sadeera Samarawickrama – 42, Kuldeep Yadav – 3/42, Yuzvendra Chahal – 3/46) lost to India – 219/2 (Shikhar Dhawan – 100*, Shreyas Iyer – 65, Thisara Perera – 1/25, Akila Dananjaya – 1/53) by 8 wickets