It was down to the last game of the year for team India that had a chance of enforcing yet another whitewash over Sri Lanka. The hosts were ruthless as usual and didn’t give the visitors even a sniff despite having an unassailable lead prior to the game. Yuzvendra Chahal and Jasprit Bumrah were rested and made way for Washington Sundar and Mohammed Siraj.
Sri Lanka lost the plot early
To break the pattern, Rohit Sharma won the toss and elected to field first on a ground where teams batting second have had a clear advantage. The debutant Washington Sundar bowled a decent first over conceding just 6 runs. Jaydev Unadkat, who has had a good return to the side, only made it better by picking up Niroshan Dickwella in his very first over.
In the next over, Sundar too got his reward for the consistency when he got Kusal Perera caught off his bowling. It went from bad to worse for the visitors when Upul Tharanga chipped one straight to Hardik Pandya off Unadkat and they were left reeling at 19/3 after 4 overs. Asela Gunaratne struck a couple of boundaries to take the score to 37/3 at the end of the powerplay.
Gunaratne’s lone fight propelled the team to fighting total
Just when a partnership was developing, Pandya sent back Sadeera Samarawickrama for 21 in the 9th over. Gunaratne was fighting the lone battle as he lost another partner from the other end in the form of Danushka Gunathilaka courtesy Kuldeep Yadav. Mohammed Siraj, after being hit for 2 fours in the 13th over, went on to remove Thisara Perera for 11 as the Sri Lankans were down to 85/6.
A few quite overs followed and the pressure increased on Gunaratne to accelerate and in the bid to collect quick runs, he perished in the 18th over after a gritty 36 off 37 balls. The Lankans were in danger of falling short of a competitive score but Akila Dananjaya and Dasun Shanaka collected 18 runs off the last over of Siraj to take the score to 135/7.
An early hiccup for India
The Indian batsmen, in reply, began cautiously and scored just 4 runs from the first 2 overs. Rohit Sharma then decided to up the ante and struck a four and a six in the 3rd over. KL Rahul couldn’t get going like the last game and was trapped in front by Dushmanta Chameera and even a review couldn’t save him. Rohit, continuing on the great form, hit a few more boundaries as the score read 37/1 after 6 overs.
The Indian captain then failed to get enough elevation on a short delivery off Shanaka and Kusal Perera took a good catch on the deep midwicket boundary. Rohit went back after scoring 27 off 20 balls as his home crowd was silenced. The run-making was evidently difficult and the visitors applied pressure with some tight overs.
The next 4 overs yielded 22 runs and the required run-rate was rising. Shreyas Iyer hammered a six down the ground in the 12th over to release the pressure but pulled his hamstring in the next over and he was struggling in running between the wickets. His pain in the middle didn’t last long as a straight hit from Manish Pandey deflected off the hand of Dananjaya to hit the stumps as he was found short at the non-striker’s end. He departed for 30 off 32 as a partnership of 42 ended in the 14th over and the score reached 87/3 after 14 overs.
India kept the nerves
The crowd was anticipating MS Dhoni to walk in but Hardik Pandya was promoted up the order. Pandey, who was striking below 100 until then, went on the charge and hit 3 fours in a space of 4 balls. Pandya, on the other hand, gave an easy catch to the keeper and got out for just 4 in the 15th over. Dhoni still did not walk in and instead, Dinesh Karthik came out to bat.
Against the run of play, Pandey was castled by Chameera for 32 in the 17th over. The situation got a bit tensed when 16 runs were required off the last 2 overs but Karthik slammed a six in the penultimate over to ease the nerves which meant just 3 runs were required from the last over. Dhoni, the master of finishing games, got a couple and then a struck a boundary to seal the game for India with 4 balls to spare and inflicted yet another clean sweep.
India won the toss and opted to bowl first
Sri Lanka: 135/7 in 20 overs
Asela Gunaratne 36, Dasun Shanaka 29*
Jaydev Unadkat 15/2, Hardik Pandya 25/2
India: 139/5 in 19.2 overs
Manish Pandey 32, Shreyas Iyer 30
Dushmanta Chameera 22/2, Dasun Shanaka 27/2
India won by 5 wickets
Player of the Match: Jaydev Unadkat
Player of the Series: Jaydev Unadkat
The County Ground, Taunton
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