Deepak Chahar, Suryakumar Yadav fifties power India to series win against Sri Lanka in ODIs
By Devarchit Varma July 21, 2021
Indian cricket team produced a magnificent performance to clinch ongoing three-match ODI series against Sri Lanka by taking an unassailable 2-0 lead, powered by a spectacular three-wicket victory on Tuesday night at the R Premadasa Stadium, thanks to splendid performances from Deepak Chahar (69*) and Suryakumar Yadav (53).
Chahar and Suryakumar brought up their respective maiden half-centuries in one-day international cricket on Tuesday night to power India to a hard-fought and come-from-behind three-wicket victory in a tricky chase. A rookie Sri Lankan team had left India struggling at 193/7 at one stage chasing 276 thanks to Wanindu Hasaranga, but India showed character and depth to deliver a strong stand of 84 runs unbeaten between Chahar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the eighth wicket and seal the series.
India created history by recording the 93rd victory against Sri Lanka in 50-overs internationals, which is the highest for any team in the white-ball cricket format. This was also India’s 10th consecutive ODI victory over Sri Lanka in their backyard in the format, and their 12th consecutive successful run chase over the island nation.
The biggest highlight of the victory was that it sealed India’s ninth consecutive ODI series victory over Sri Lanka — a record which they have maintained since 1997.
The eighth-wicket unbeaten 84-run stand between Chahar and Bhuvneshwar was also India’s second highest against Sri Lanka, with the first being of a 100-run partnership between MS Dhoni and Bhuvneshwar during India’s tour of Sri Lanka in 2017.
It all began, however, with Sri Lanka racing off to a strong start after electing to bat first in the second ODI. The home team’s opening pair of Avishka Fernando (50) and Minod Bhanuka (36) came good as the two added 77 runs in 13.2 overs to set up a strong platform for the home team to launch itself towards a big total.
However, the failure of middle order batsmen — Bhanuka Rajapaksa was dismissed for a first-ball duck and Dhananjaya de Silva fell after making 32 from 45 balls — which pegged Sri Lanka back as they were looking to keep up with the run-rate and post a strong total at the end.
Sri Lanka were bolstered by a splendid half-century from Charith Asalanka, who made 65 from 68 deliveries with the help of six boundaries as his knock held the Sri Lankan innings together in the middle overs.
Asalanka was involved in three crucial partnerships that helped Sri Lanka go past the 250-run mark. He added 38 runs with Dasun Shanaka, 22 with Wanindu Hasaranga and 50 runs from only 48 balls with Chamika Karunaratne — another star of the Sri Lankan innings.
Karunaratne once again produced a handy knock at the end of the innings, smacking five boundaries to score 44 not out with 33 deliveries. For India, Bhuvneshwar was the pick among bowlers with the spell of 10-0-54-3 whereas the others in Yuzvendra Chahal 3/50 and Chahar 2/53 were also among wickets.
India were served well by the top-order in the first ODI chasing a target of 263, and hopes are pinned yet again on the young guns in Prithvi Shaw and Ishan Kishan to fire, in the company of India captain Shikhar Dhawan. That said, India were off to a rocky start which saw the three batsmen been dismissed without anything significant contributions or any consolidate total on the board, which implied tremendous amount of pressure on the middle order.
Shaw was the first to be dismissed when Hasaranga bamboozled him with a delivery that turned in sharply and passed under his bat and crash into the wickets, whereas Kishen ended up playing one on to his wickets to mark a shaky start for the visiting side.
Hasaranga continued to trouble India as he managed to breach the defence of Dhawan, hitting his pads in front of the wickets which looked out from the moment the ball crashed into him. But Sri Lanka were forced to take a review after a denial from the umpire and they got the right decision at the end which left India reeling at 65/3 after 12 overs.
Manish Pandey tried weathering the storm in the company of Suryakumar with a 50-run stand for the fourth wicket. But he was unfortunate to have been dismissed at the non-striker’s end after the ball clipped Shanaka’s hand following a straight drive from Suryakumar and crashed into the wicket while Pandey was backing up too far.
India’s slipped further when Hardik Pandya was caught at short midwicket for a third-ball duck, which left India reeling at 116/5 after 18 overs. With a huge chunk of their batting dismissed, all hope of a fightback fell on the shoulders of Suryakumar, who did not disappoint as he went on to make his maiden half-century — an innings of 53 from 44 deliveries with six hits to the fence.
While Sri Lanka were growing in confidence sensing an upset which had started to appear on the horizon, India began staging their resistance. Suryakumar and Krunal Pandya (35) added 44 for the sixth wicket but Sri Lanka once again struck to dismiss the former, jolting India yet again.
But this was when Chahar began his rearguard action, first adding 33 runs for the seventh wicket with Krunal and a splendid 84-run unbeaten stand for the eighth wicket with Bhuvneshwar which saw India through.
Chahar displayed the depth of talent in Indian ranks with an innings of tremendous composition and determination, attacking the loose deliveries while trying to rotate the strike the rest of the time. He remained unbeaten on 69 from 82 balls which included seven boundaries and one six, whereas Bhuvneshwar reached 19 not out when the winning runs were hit.
The two teams will now get a day’s gap to rest and recuperate to comeback on Friday for the third and final ODI of the series.
Devarchit Varma is a cricket writer and journalist with an experience of more than a decade, having worked at Hindustan Times (newspaper) and CricketCountry (website). Along with covering international and domestic cricket, he has also interviewed several current and former top players such as Rohit Sharma, Steve Smith, Dale Steyn, Michael Hussey, Jacques Kallis, Brendon McCullum, Shane Watson, Lasith Malinga and many more. He has also worked in other beats as a journalist in Bollywood (Reliance BigOye) and IT (SiliconIndia) industries.
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