IND vs SL 3rd T20I: Perfect in Pune
India ride on fifties by openers Rahul and Dhawan before late surge from Pandey, Shardul takes hosts beyond 200; pacers then dismantle Lankans to seal series
Pune: Openers Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul struck breezy half centuries before the bowlers delivered in style to help India to a massive 78-run victory over Sri Lanka and a 2-0 sweep of the three-match bilateral T20 series at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Ghahunje here on Friday.
India had built upon a brilliant start of 97 provided by Dhawan, who ran into well-needed form, and Rahul to post an imposing 201 for six despite a middle-over slump.
The huge run-chase in the must-win situation was always going to be tricky and so it proved as Lanka were virtually out of the race after losing their first four wickets for a meagre 26 with the Powerplay yet to end. They were finally all out for 123 giving the hosts a huge victory.
Dhananjaya de Silva (57 in 36 balls) and Angelo Mathews (31 in 20 balls) put on 68 runs in just over six overs but the steep asking eventually did the Lankans in. Earlier, the changed batting order, with skipper Virat Kohli dropping down to No. 6, did not work well for India as they crumbled from 97 for none to 122 for four in less than three overs.
Leg spin, especially of the chinaman type from Lakshan Sandakan (3-35) did the trick for the Lankans who had been put under severe pressure by the free stroking Rahul initially and then Dhawan, who took full advantage of a dropped catch in the deep when on one, to strike a six and seven fours 52 in 36 balls with his bottom-handed shots .
Rahul, on the other hand, looked in prime form with his silken strokes trough the covers in making 54 off 36 balls laced with one six and five fours.
Shikhar Dhawan en route his 52 against Sri Lanka in Pune yesterday. Pic/Mandar Tannu
But both were foxed by the left-arm leggie Sandakan and departed in close succession and in between these two dismissals Sanju Samson, recalled to the playing XI after five years, struck a first ball six before falling to the next ball from the other leggie Wanidu Hasaranga.
Kohli made a breezy 26 in 17 balls before he was run out and next man Washington Sundar was out first ball to leave India limping at 164 for six and in danger of being bowled out for below 200.
Pandey packs a punch
Manish Pandey, in the team in place of Shivam Dube, made an unbeaten 31 and also put on an unfinished stand of 37 in just 16 balls with Shardul Thakur to take the hosts over the 200 mark. When the last over commenced India were 182 for 6 but Thakur hit two fours and a six off Lahiru Kumara to help the hosts finish on a high while remaining unconquered on an 8-ball 22, recalling his fine flourish (8-ball 22) for a series-deciding ODI against WI in December.
India 201-6 (KL Rahul 54, S Dhawan 52, M Pandey 31*, S Thakur 22*; P Sandakan 3-35) beat SL 123 all out in 15.5 overs (D de Silva 57; N Saini 3-28, S Thakur 2-19) by 78 runs
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