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Sri Lanka hold nerves to win 3rd ODI but India take series 2-1

By Devarchit Varma July 25, 2021

Sri Lanka recorded only their second victory in one-day international cricket in the year 2021 by producing an all-round performance and holding onto their nerves to hand India a three-wicket defeat, in the third and final ODI played at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Friday. 

In a rain-truncated match which was reduced to 47-overs-per-side, Sri Lanka first did well to limit India to 225 from a position of 157/3, and despite jitters towards the later part of their chase, Sri Lanka finished at 227/7 in what was a revised total as per the Duckworth-Lewis method, from only 39 overs.

In a contest where both the teams made plenty of changes with India bringing in as many as six  — which included five debuts — Sri Lanka came out on top on the back of an impressive bowling performances from their spinners Akila Dananjaya and Praveen Jayawickrama. Later on, a sturdy 76 from their in-form opening batsman Avishka Fernando and a brisk 65 from Sri Lanka No 3 Bhanuka Rajapaksa saw them adding 109 for the second wicket, effectively shutting India out of the contest. 

The victory was certainly set up by the Sri Lankan bowlers who kept on making inroads in the Indian batting line-up, which stuttered in the middle overs despite a bright start, having elected to bat first after winning the toss. India lost their opener and captain Shikhar Dhawan for 13, but the pair of Prithvi Shaw and Sanju Samson consolidated by keeping up a brisk scoring rate in their act of adding 74 for the second wicket. 

Shaw was once again sublime throughout the park, hitting as many as eight boundaries in his innings of 49 from 49 deliveries. However, just when it was looking like the right-handed Indian opener would score his maiden half-century in 50-overs cricket, Dasun Shanaka caught Shaw moving across the stumps, pinning him in front of the wickets. 

Samson, playing his maiden ODI match precisely six years and three days after making his T20I debut for India back in July 2015, was belligerent as well. The wicketkeeper-batsman smashed five fours and a six to race to a run-a-ball 46, an innings which signified his class as well as all-round hitting ability in shorter formats which make him a pleasurable watch.

Suryakumar Yadav was once again among runs having survived a close leg-before call against Jayawickrama, scoring 40 from 37 balls with seven boundaries. 

But rain intervened in the middle overs and broke India’s momentum, shifting it in favour of Sri Lanka. From a position of 118/3 in the 19th over when Samson was dismissed, India kept on losing regular wickets in form of Manish Pandey (11), Hardik Pandya (19), debutant Nitish Rana (7) and debutant Krishnappa Gowtham (2). 

India’s other debutant Rahul Chahar and Navdeep Saini did extremely well with their limitations with the bat to add crucial 29 runs from 59 balls for the ninth wicket, to help their side go past the 200-run mark after suffering a collapse of sorts.

Dananjaya, who had begun with being hit for three boundaries in the first over and a poor DRS call against Dhawan, recovered well to return with figures of 10-0-44-3 whereas Jayawickrama was slightly costlier, giving away 59 runs for his three wickets in 10 overs. Dushmantha Chameera was also expensive, taking two wickets for 55 runs in his 8.1 overs.

Despite making a shaky start to the chase, losing an early wicket in form of Minod Bhanuka — who fell to Gowtham in the sixth over — Sri Lanka kept pressing hard for quick runs which gradually kept pushing India on back foot and subsequently, out of the contest. 

Fernando and Bhanuka Rajapaksa added 109 runs for the second wicket which put Sri Lanka in firm control, and even though they lost wickets in a flurry after that, a moderate total which was always in their reach did not deter Sri Lanka.

Fernando fell for 76 from 98 balls with the help of four boundaries and a six whereas Rajapaksa was slightly quicker in scoring his runs, cracking 12 boundaries from 56 balls to make 65. Dhananjaya de Silva was dismissed for 2 by India debutant Chetan Sakariya, who also got rid of Rajapaksa to give India a look-in, but a moderate total meant that India could not really press on the pressure button in the relatively inexperienced Sri Lankan ranks.

Charitha Asalanka made 24 from 28 balls with three boundaries and towards the end, Ramesh Mendis, playing his first match of the series, held on the nerves to help Sri Lanka go past the target with 48 balls to spare and three wickets in hand by scoring 15 not out.

Sakariya and Chahar were the pick of the bowlers for India with figures of 8-0-34-2 and 10-0-54-3 respectively. Gowtham and Hardik Pandya claimed one wicket each but Navdeep Saini and Rana remained wicketless.

This was for the first time since 1980 that India fielded as many as five debutants in an ODI, which also happened to be the first such instance with Sri Lanka being the opponent team.

The two teams will now get a day’s gap to rest and recuperate as they hit the field of the Khettarama stadium once again on Sunday night for the first of the three T20 internationals. 


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