The inevitable happened as India defeated Sri Lanka in the 3rd ODI at Pallekele to gain an unassailable lead with 2 matches still to go. Where Jasprit Bumrah laid the foundation in the first innings, Rohit Sharma backed up his good work to guide the team past the line rather comfortably at the end.
Initially, the change in personnel changed the pattern as the stand-in captain Chamara Kapugedera won the toss for the first time for Sri Lanka. Interestingly enough, he opted to have a bat first. Bhuvneshwar Kumar extracted swing from the deck but unfortunately, he remained wicketless in the 3rd game in a row.
All about Bumrah
But Jasprit Bumrah more than made up for his new ball partner. In the 4th over, he removed the dangerous Niroshan Dickwella courtesy a fuller length delivery that struck his pad adjacent to the line of the stumps. Soon, the pacer removed Kusal Mendis as Rohit Sharma took a blinder in the slips to leave Sri Lanka at 28/2 in the 8th over.
The new entries in the side – Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne added 72 runs for the 3rd wicket but the scoring was pretty slow that increased the pressure. Chandimal took 71 balls to score 36 as his misery at the crease was ended by Hardik Pandya in the 26th over. Angelo Mathews failed to last long and was removed by Kedar Jadhav for 11.
Close to the 40th over, Sri Lanka had barely managed 150 runs on the board. The urge to up the ante got to Thirimanne as he went back for 80 off 105 balls as Bumrah took his 3rd wicket. Kapugedera tried to play some strokes but could manage just 14 and was castled by Axar Patel.
From then on, it was all about Bumrah who accounted for wickets of Akila Dananjaya and Milinda Siriwardana who was opening his shoulders. A run out of Dushmanta Chameera late in the innings didn’t let the innings flourish at all. Bumrah maiden five-for halted Sri Lanka to a paltry 217/9. Bumrah became the only Indian bowler to bag a five wicket haul since 2014 when Stuart Binny took 6 wickets against Bangladesh.
A poor start for India
The in-form Shikhar Dhawan didn’t get going this time around as Lasith Malinga accounted for his wicket for just 5 runs. An in-swinger took the inside edge of Dhawan and dismantled the stumps. Rohit Sharma, at the other end, was cautious at the start.
The skipper Virat Kohli walked into bat at his regular No.3 spot this time. In the 6th over, an in-swinger was flicked towards the square leg boundary by Kohli but it landed straight into the hands of Dushmanta Chameera stationed there. The Indian captain suffered yet another low score as he had to walk back for 3 leaving India in stutters at 19/2.
KL Rahul batted at No.4 and alongside Rohit, started to rebuild the innings. Rohit, who had scored a half-century in the last game, looked in fine form once again and struck some beautiful boundaries. The duo added 42 runs for the 3rd wicket and brought stability to the chase.
The Dananjaya scare
The biggest weapon of Sri Lanka – Akila Dananjaya was into the attack with his bag of tricks. In his very first over, he removed Rahul for 17. It wasn’t the best of his deliveries as the batsman went back to a short delivery and hit that straight into the hands of Thirimanne at deep mid-wicket. Rahul missed out on yet another chance to prove his worth in colored clothing.
In his second over, the spinner trapped Kedar Jadhav in front of the wickets while the batsman tried to sweep the ball. He had to walk back without scoring as the umpire raised his finger. India were left reeling at 61/4 in the 16th over. It seemed as if the story of the last game was being repeated when Dananjaya was all over the Indian line-up.
Belligerent Rohit, Calm Dhoni
How can you ruffle India’s feathers until you remove Dhoni? He has been doing that in his entire career, he did that in the last game and he did it once again, here as well. The cool and collected Dhoni brought calmness to the proceedings that helped Rohit at the other end too.
Dhoni nullified the Dananjaya effect and played him superbly. His composure allowed Rohit to flourish. Where Rohit was going all guns blazing after getting past his fifty, Dhoni was quietly accumulating runs at the other end. The opener brought up his 12th century in the 35th over and Dhoni reached his 65th fifty in 43rd over.
India were cruising to victory and reached 210/4 in the 44th over. That’s when all hells broke loose as the disappointed Sri Lankan crowd showed their dissent by throwing bottles on the ground. The cowardly act halted the game for long and at the end, the players were taken off.
The players shook hands and by the visuals, it seemed as if the match was awarded to India. But a few minutes later, the umpires and the players walked back to the field. All the troublemakers were asked to leave, one part of the grass bank was completely emptied and the match resumed with very less crowd. The batsmen completed the formality of getting the remaining 8 runs. An amazing partnership of 157 runs gave India a win by 6 wickets and yet another series win on the tour.
Sri Lanka won the toss and opted to bat first
Sri Lanka: 217/9 in 50 overs
Lahiru Thirimanne 80
Jasprit Bumrah 27/5
India: 218/4 in 45.1 overs
Rohit Sharma 124*, MS Dhoni 67*
Akila Dananjaya 38/2
India won by 6 wickets
Player of the match: Jasprit Bumrah