India registered a crushing 78-run victory against Sri Lanka in the third and final Twenty2- International and completed a dominating 2-0 series win at the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) Stadium in Pune on Friday.
Chasing a humongous 202 that came on the back of half-centuries by KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan, Sri Lanka were cleaned up for 123 with Navdeep Saini emerging as the pick of the bowlers with three wickets in his 3.5 overs conceding 28 runs.
It was a sorry tale left for Sri Lanka to look back. The only positive for the visitors in the final T20I was the performance of Dhanajaya de Silva, who registered a brilliant 57 off 36, his stay at the crease laced with eight boundaries and one six. Dhananjaya received good support from Angelo Mathews (31) as the duo managed to forge 68 runs for the fifth wicket, but once the veteran Mathews was dismissed by Washington Sundar, it was just a matter of time before the proceedings culminated.
Dhananjaya and Mathews were the only batsmen who registered double digits in an otherwise embarrassing batting display from the Islanders.
Shardul Thakur and Sundar pocketed two wickets apiece to conclude a complete allround performance from the hosts.
Earlier, after being put into bat, Rahul and Dhawan’s fifties coupled with a powerful cameo from Manish Pandey (31* off 18) and Shardul (22* off 8) powered India to 201/6.
Winning the toss for the first time in the series, Sri Lanka captain Lasith Malinga invited the hosts to bat, a decision that his counterpart Virat Kohli said that they initially wanted as well to throw some challenge to the batting department.
On a batting friendly surface, India were off to a good start with openers KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan stitching 97 runs. Dhawan, on a comeback, was initially patchy, and was assisted with a dropped catch as early as the second over. The southpaw went after Angelo Mathews and the ball head straight towards Dasun Shanaka who was stationed at deep square leg. The fielder made a meal of his judgement by jumping forward which proved to be too high. To add insult to injury, the ball parried away to the fence.
Dhawan, who was on a single digit score, capitalised on the dropped catch and went on to smash a brilliant half-century. However, Sandakan, introduced early in the innings, made his presence felt. He dismissed Dhawan for 52 off 36 (7 boundaries and 1 six) and then returned to claim the wickets of Rahul, who was stumped behind by Kusal Perera. Rahul’s carried on his impeccable form and notched up 54 off 36 balls – his innings studded with five boundaries and the solitary six.
Sanju Samon, included in the side at the expense of Rishabh Pant, looked good after smashing a six off the first delivery he faced, but perished in the next after he was trapped lbw off Wanindu Hasaranga.
Shreyas Iyer’s tale too followed the same template as Samson’s. After registering a boundary, the Mumbai batsman was flummoxed by a slower one from Sandakan, who took a simple catch off his own bowling in the 13th over.
Sri Lanka bounced back really well into the game and were on track to restricting India to less than 180. However, Shardul Thakur’s unbeaten 22 off 8 (2 sixes and 1 boundary) coupled with Manish Pandey’s 31 not out off 18 helped India cross the 200-run mark. Kohli, who batted at No. 6 – the lowest at T20Is – added 26 off 17 before he was run out in the 18th over.
For Sri Lanka, Sandakan returned with impressive figures of 3/35 in his 4 overs.
Brief scores: India 201/6 (KL Rahul 54, Shikhar Dhawan 52; Lakshan Sandakan 3/35) beat Sri Lanka 123 all out (Dhananjaya de Silva 57; Navdeep Saini 3/28, Shardul Thakur 2/19, Washington Sundar 2/37) by 78 runs