India are second, to South Africa, in ICC ODI rankings. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, are reeling at the eighth spot. However, the three-match ODIs was on the line at Visakhapatnam. Sri Lanka hammered India in Dharamsala, while India leveled series at Mohali courtesy Rohit Sharma’s third double hundred. In short, had India lost the final ODI, it would have been their maiden series defeat versus Sri Lanka at home. However, there was no surprise in store. Shikhar Dhawan and Shreyas Iyer bludgeoned Sri Lanka in pursuit of 216 to handover an 8-wicket victory at Visakhapatnam.
India commenced the chase with Dhawan and Rohit looking set. Rohit danced down the track, and hammered a huge six towards long on. However, Akila Dananjaya dropped another flighted delivery to find the gap between Rohit’s bat and pad. As a result, the skipper went back for 7. Iyer, filling in for Virat Kohli, came in early.
Dhawan continued to impress at the same venue wherein he made his international debut in 2010. He was timing everything from the middle of the blade. The left-hand right-hand combination, in Dhawan and Iyer respectively, bore effective results with the duo churning regular boundaries. Dananjaya was persisted owing to his occasional big turners. He, however, leaked runs. Angelo Mathews, Nuwan Pradeep and Suranga Lakmal came in for short spells, but found no luck.
On the other hand, India attacked Sachith Pathirana and Asela Gunaratne. The dew started settling in, and the writing was on the wall. Their bowlers erred the lines and conceded runs at regular intervals. Iyer played an aggressive innings by targetting the spinners. To his dismay, he missed out on another hundred. He was dismissed on 88 at Mohali, and looked in a hurry to finish proceedings. Hence, he departed for 65.
Dhawan looked in ominous touch. He swept and swept hard. In addition, Dhawan used the pace of the fast bowlers and steered the gaps frequently. He raced to a fifty off 46 deliveries. After Iyer’s departure, he made full use of the opportunity and slammed his 12th ton (off 89 balls).
Earlier, Rohit won his first toss in the all-important series decider. “Good conditions, will be hot initially but as the day goes on, climate gets better. Keeping the dew factor in mind, we want to chase,” stated Rohit. Indian bowlers, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, conceded 41 off the first six overs. Nonetheless, Bumrah removed Danushka Gunathilaka, looking to go overboard.
Hardik Pandya, first bowling change, was expensive with a predictable line and length. Upul Tharanga and Sadeera Samarawickrama stitched an impressive 121-run stand. Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal took time to get going, while Tharanga looked solid. He raced towards his fifty, and became the third batsman — after Kohli and Rohit — to amass 1,000 runs in 2017.
Nonetheless, once Chahal dismissed Samarawickrama — inviting him for an aerial shot on a flighted ball — Sri Lanka lost plot. Tharanga lost concentration on 95. This was his first score in nervous 90s. MS Dhoni stumped the left-hander to deny him his 16th hundred. Sri Lanka paid the price for playing too many shots. They were reduced to 189 for 5.
Mathews fell to a peach off a delivery from Chahal. The ball landed on leg, spun away and the former Lankan skipper played for the turn to be deceived completely. Gunaratne’s cameo propelled the score in excess of 200, but posed no threat to a strong Indian batting lineup.