A commanding batting display from the lower middle-order led by Deepak Chahar's match-winning 69-runs helped the Indian team register a three-wicket win against Sri Lanka in a thrilling encounter at the R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium in Colombo.
Chahar and vice-captain Bhuvneshwar Kumar (19*) forged a match-defining 84-run partnership to guide the team over the line. The win also helped the team with an unassailable 2-0 lead in the ODI leg of the series.
Chasing 276 for the series win, the batting unit of the Indian team was jolted early by Wanindu Hasaranga. The leg spinner assigned the crucial role of bowling the third over scalped the prized wicket of Prithvi Shaw for 13-runs.
Early setback for India! Prithvi Shaw gets cleaned-up by Wanindu Hasaranga 😲— Sony Sports (@SonySportsIndia) July 20, 2021
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While the top order shouldered the responsibility of the side in the first game, it was the lower middle order who guided the team to a three-wicket win.
After reeling at 65 for the loss of three wickets, Manish Pandey and Suryakumar Yadav forged a crucial 50-run partnership for the fourth wicket before Pandey was dismissed in an unfortunate manner. A straight drive from Yadav gets him caught inches short of the ground at the non-striker's end by Dasun Shanaka.
A couple of balls later, Hardik Pandya was dismissed without troubling the scorers as the visiting side slipped to 116 for five. Despite a flurry of wickets in the middle overs, the Indian team was well on course in this run chase, courtesy of a well-compiled half-century from Yadav.
Despite his crucial wicket, Deepak Chahar and Krunal Pandya steadied the innings with a 33-run partnership before the southpaw was bowled for 35-runs.
With 83 required in 15 overs, Bhuvneshwar Kumar joined Chahar in the middle with the match evenly poised. Accumulating the ones and twos, the duo kept the scoreboard ticking with an occasional boundary. The 28-year old Chahar was the aggressive partner amongst the two as he smashed an unbeaten half-century to guide the young Indian side to a famous win.
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Earlier in the day, Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat first on a sluggish wicket on offer at Colombo. With the series on the line, the opening combination of Avishka Fernando and Minod Bhanuka started the innings steadily by amassing 59 runs in the field restrictions.
The duo benefited from a couple of lapses in the field as Manish Pandey let off southpaw Bhanuka on the last ball of the second over in the slip cordon off Deepak Chahar.
A couple of overs later, Bhuvneshwar Kumar was guilty of misjudging a flick by Fernando on the boundary rope. With wickets hard to come by from the medium pacers, Shikhar Dhawan turned to Yuzvendra Chahal in the eighth over of the innings.
The slow surface helped the leg spinner as he kept things tight and provided them with a crucial breakthrough as the left-hander smashed a full toss to Pandey at mid-wicket with 77-runs on the board. The subsequent delivery, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, was undone by an absolute peach by Chahal as he ensured his leg-spin delivery held its line to produce a faint edge to the keeper, Ishan Kishan.
Yuzi Chahal spun a web around the Lankans, claims 2 wickets in 2 consecutive balls! 🔥— Sony Sports (@SonySportsIndia) July 20, 2021
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The Indian spin trio of Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav and Krunal Pandya stifled the opposition in the middle overs as they failed to score a boundary in 97 deliveries.
With the pressure of the scoreboard and the destructive ability of the Indian batting unit, the home team lost a flurry of wickets and slumped from 77 for no loss to 134 runs for the loss of four wickets.
Despite the stutter in the middle overs, a valuable half-century from Charith Asalanka anchored the innings and laid a solid foundation for a late onslaught in the death overs.
Along with Chamika Karunaratne, the southpaw stitched a cricket 50-run partnership for the seventh wicket. Karunaratne continued his fine form in the series and scored a quickfire 44-runs off 33 balls, including five boundaries, to propel the home team to 275/9 in the first innings.
The two teams will lock horns in the final ODI on Friday, 23rd July, at the same venue, with the Indian squad eying for a clean sweep.