Sri Lanka win final ODI against India by 3 wickets
Sri Lanka fought both with the bat and the ball to record a morale boosting three-wicket victory over India in the third and final one-day international played at the R Premadasa stadium in Colombo on Friday. Avishka Fernando and Bhanuka Rajapaksa scored half-centuries in a tricky chase whereas spinners Akila Dananjaya and Praveen Jayawickrama shared five wickets between them to help Sri Lanka get the better of a strong but a heavily-changed Indian outfit.
It was for the first time since the year 1980 that the Indian cricket team fielded as many as five debutants, along with making an overall six changes to their playing 11. The new players included Sanju Samson, Nitish Rana, Krishnappa Gowtham, Rahul Chahar and Chetan Sakariya whereas Navdeep Saini was the sixth change overall.
It was a match truncated by rain as both the teams were allowed 47 overs per side. India were bowled out for 225 43.1 overs with their store opening batsman Prithvi Shaw score in 49 and debutant wicket-keeper batsman Sanju Samson scoring 46. Suryakumar Yadav was also impressive with his performance, scoring 40 from 37 balls but no other Indian batsman could make an impact.
India suffered a batting collapse of sorts as they slipped from 118/2 at one stage in their innings to 225 all-out in 43.1 overs. Dhananjay returned with the figures of 10-0-44-3, a spell in which he got rid of Indian batsman Suryakumar Yadav, Nitish Rana and Krishnappa Gowtham.
It was India who batted first as they made a strong start despite losing their captain Shikhar Dhawan early on in the innings. Shaw and Samson added 74 runs for the second wicket to provide a strong platform, but the others just could not contribute and India suffered because of it. Manish Pandey was dismissed for 11, Hardik Pandya could make only 19, Rana could make only 7 and Gowtham made 2.
Towards the end, it was a strong 29-run stand between Saini and Chahar that helped India to post a total of 225 which still gave them a chance of being competitive.
But any chance of early advantage to India was ruled out by a 109 Saint stand for the second wicket between Fernando and Rajapaksa after Vinod Dhanuka was dismissed earlier in the innings. Fernando made most of his rich form, top scoring at 76 from 98 balls with the help of four boundaries and one six, whereas Rajapaksa struck 12 fours in his innings of 65 which included 56 balls.
Sri Lanka did show some discomfort towards the end of their choice as they lost wickets in a cluster, sliding from 194/4 to 220/7 with India making a strong comeback with the help of Chahar. The debutant leg-spinner was very impressive with his line and length, controlling the home team batsmen for a majority of his bowling spell despite giving away 54 runs from his 10 overs for three wickets.
India were also served well by left-arm seamer Sakariya, who took 2/34 from his eight overs while the others in Gautam and Hardik Pandya claimed one wicket each.
Sri Lanka will certainly be pleased after this performance having recorded only their second win in ODIs this year, and they would like to carry this confidence into the three-match T20I series which starts on Sunday with all matches to be played at the R Premadasa stadium itself.