KL Rahul (54) and Shikhar Dhawan (52) put up a stellar show while Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur, and Washington Sundar ran through the Sri Lankan batting line-up to fetch a 78-run victory against the Islanders in the third T20I of the three-match series at Maharashtra Cricket Stadium in Pune on Friday.
The hosts whitewashed the visitors 2-0 in the series, thanks to the all-round performance by the Men in Blue.
India’s decision of making some changes in their playing eleven proved to be beneficial as Manish Pandey provided the last-minute impetus to take the score beyond 200 when India was losing its way in the middle overs.
Earlier, the visitors won the toss and opted to field first against India, who posted a 201-run target for the loss of six wickets.
Dhawan, who was not at his fluent best in the last match, put up a classic show by scoring 52 runs off 36 balls smashing seven boundaries and a six, while KL Rahul carried his sublime form and blasted 54 runs off 36 deliveries. Both the openers shared a significant 97-run partnership.
Soon after completing his 10th T20Is half-century, Dhawan got out after giving a sitter to Dhanushka Gunathilaka off Sandakan at deep mid-wicket.
After the first fall at 97 runs, India lost another wicket of Sanju Samson who replaced Rishabh Pant and was promoted to number 3. He hit a six on the first ball but was trapped by Hasaranga leg before on the next delivery leaving India at 106 runs for the loss of two wickets.
That was not enough as India lost two quick wickets at the hands of Lakshan Sandakan, who removed KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer (4) in the 13th over. Skipper Kohli then handled the situation by scoring 26 runs off 17 balls, while Manish Pandey who was replacing Shivam Dube, shouldered the run-scoring responsibility for India by putting up 31 runs off 18 balls with the help of four boundaries in the death overs. Shardul Thakur provided Pandey enough aid at the other end. Thakur scored 22 runs off eight balls by smashing two sixes and a four to help India score 201 runs for the loss of six wickets.
In reply, Sri Lanka managed only 123 runs in 15.5 overs as there was no resistance from the visitors. Indian seamers ran through the Sri Lanka top order as all of them struck in their first over. Sri Lanks lost their first wicket in the first over when Jasprit Bumrah dismissed Danushka Gunathilaka (1). Shardul Thakur dismissed Avishka Fernando (9) in the next over and soon they lost their third wicket for just 15 runs. Apart from Dhananjaya De Silva (51) and Angelo Mathews (31) who put up 68 runs fifth-wicket partnership, no other batsmen from Sri Lanka could score in double figures.
The visitors were bundled out for 123 in 15.5 overs as the hosts won the match by 78 runs and series by 2-0.
Overall, this was India’s 13th victory from 18 meetings in the shortest format against the Islanders. Since 2019, Sri Lanka have lost 11 matches out of 12 under the leadership of Lasith Malinga which the team management must be concerned about.
India will take a lot of positives from this series as their bench-strength provided spectacular performances and this will be a pleasant headache for the India team management for the T20 World Cup in October this year.