Men-in-Blue clinch ODI series in Sri Lanka
Trailing 0-2 in the ODI series, Sri Lanka, under new skipper Chamara Kapugedra elected to bat after winning the toss in the third ODI against India at Pallekele.
Jasprit Bumrah struck early for the visitors, sending back the dangerous duo of Niroshan Dickwella (13) and Kusal Mendis (1). However, the reacalled duo of Lahiru Thirimanne and Dinesh Chandimal got the innings back on track with a steady 72-run stand. Unfortunately for the Lankans, Chandimal’s (36) dismissal in the 26th over triggered an all-too familiar tale of a middle-order collapse. The hosts eventually finished at 9/217. Thirimanne (80) held the innings together.
For the visitors, Jaspirt Bumrah continued his wicket-taking spree in this series, claiming his maiden fiver in ODIs (5/27). Hardik Pandya, Kedar Jadhav and Axar Patel chipped in with a wicket each.
Team India looked set to reach the total of 218 at ease, however Sri Lankan bowlers had a certain plan to dismantle the visitors attacking options. Lasith Malinga got a short ball to dart back into Shikhar Dhawan (5) and the ball rallied off the under-edge onto the stumps. Three overs later, Vishwa Fernando had Virat Kohli (3) out by a leaping Dushmantha Chameera at long leg. Akila Dananjaya continued his great show from the last game, removing KL Rahul (17) and Kedar Jadav (0) in his first seven balls. With the Indian team struggling at 4/61, the game was evenly poised.
It seemed as if another Indian middle-order collapse was on the cards. However, Rohit Sharma and MS Dhoni ensured that the alarm bells stopped ringing.
Dhoni, seemed completely at ease, as Dananjaya's ‘mystery’ variations had no impact on him. At the other end, Rohit Sharma looked rock-solid. The pair brought all their experience into the game, ensuring that that big hits were earmarked only for the bad balls.
Rohit reached his 12th ODI century - off the 118th delivery he faced, and struck 16 fours and two sixes in all. Dhoni silenced his critics again with an unbeaten and composed 67 off 86 balls. The duo finished off the game with 29 balls to spared, registering an unbeaten 157-run fifth-wicket stand.
The victory ensured that Team India took an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series.