After completing a series victory in the second ODI, a test of bench strength was expected from India. However, not to this volume. Heading into the third and the last ODI of the series, India made six changes and five of them were debutant. Losing the toss in the first two matches, Shikhar Dhawan won the toss and gestured his toss victory with his trademark thigh tap. Batting first, a new look Indian team posted only 225 after the match was curtailed to 47 overs because of a brief rain interval.
Chasing an average total, Sri Lankan batsmen were off to a good start despite an early breakthrough. The second wicket partnership of 109 between Avishka Fernando and Bhanuka Rajapaksha settled the nerves and paved the way for their first win of the tour. But, there were few scares at the fag end when Rahul Chahar was ripping through the middle order. In the end, Sri Lanka crawled to a victory by three wickets and broke the streak. As always, there were few notable stats from the third ODI, here are a few of those:
A win in the second ODI guaranteed a few new faces for the third. But, it wasn’t a few, it was plenty. India went ahead with five debutants. Apart from the first ODI in 1974, only once had India handed as many caps as they did today previously. In 1980, against Australia in Melbourne, India handed caps to Dilip Doshi, Kirti Azad, Roger Binny, Sandeep Patil and Tirumalai Srinivasan. In the third ODI, Chetan Sakariya, Krishnappa Gowtham, Nitish Rana, Rahul Chahar and Sanju Samson made their debuts.
A first for debut spinners
Among the debutants, there were two specialists’ spinners in the form of Chahar and Gowtham. Gowtham was the first specialist off-spinner for India after Washington Sundar in December 2017. Towards the end of the first innings, there was a lot of turn on offer and India obliged with Chahar coming in as the first change in the fifth over of the innings. Then followed by Gowtham as the second change. This was the first instance of two debutant spinners coming in as the first change and the second change bowlers in ODIs for India.
The only 100 partnership
In both the first two matches, a total of 250+ was scored in both the innings. However, there wasn’t a single century stand. In a low scoring encounter, the pair of Fernando and Rajapaksha put on the first 100-run stand as they amassed 109 runs for the second wicket. There have been eight half-century stands, out of which six of them belong to India.
A mutual understanding
The introduction of Gowtham was an early success. He bagged Minod Bhanuka who looked to sweep the first ball he faced. A lot of credit goes to Sakariya who bagged a low catch. Gowtham in exchange complimented by taking a catch off the bowling of Sakariya to fetch his first ODI wicket. This was only the fourth Instance of debutants sharing a catch and a wicket between each other in ODIs. However, this is only the second instance where both of them were sharing their maiden catch and maiden wicket.
Alas! a win
Nothing would have been as sweet as the victory in the third ODI. It had been ages for the hosts that they had defeated India in their own backyard. Their last win had come on 24th July 2012, exactly nine years before. In this span, Sri Lanka had lost eleven consecutive matches against India, the most for them against any opponent at home. Finally, the barren streak was broken with a win in the third ODI.