A superb all-round performance helped India cruise to a six-wicket win in the third One-Day International (ODI) against Sri Lanka and clinch the five-match series 3-0 at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium here.
Set a target of 243 runs, India coasted to victory in 44.1 overs, winning with 35 balls to spare. Opener Shikhar Dhawan played a stellar knock (91) and forged useful partnerships with Ajinkya Rahane (31) and Ambati Rayadu (35) to lead India to victory.
Skipper Virat Kohli also contributed with a solid 53, in the process becoming the quickest batsman to reach 6,000 ODI runs, taking only 136 innings to reach the feat. Pacer Umesh Yadav (4/53) wrecked Sri Lanka’s top order earlier in the day to help set up the triumph.
India approached their run chase in the right spirit, giving nothing away despite chasing a small target against a mediocre attack.
Dhawan was in hot form, hitting the ball superbly and dictating the proceedings. He was ably supported by Rahane and Rayudu. Kohli carried on the momentum after their departure to smoothen the road to victory.
Dhawan called upon his wide range of shots to give the opponents no ray of hope, becoming the fastest Indian and fifth fastest to reach 2,000 ODI runs, in just 48 innings.
But just when victory was in sight, first Dhawan and then Kohli fell. But that could do nothing to change the outcome of the match.
In the afternoon session, Sri Lanka rode on the back of a brilliant century from veteran Mahela Jayawardene to put up a total of 242.
Jayawardene, who struck his 17th century, was well supported by Tillakaratne Dilshan (53) at the start but, after the latter got out, no other batsman gave much support to Jayawardene. In the end, the visitors, who elected to bat, were bowled out for 242 in 48.2 overs.
Sri Lanka got off to a poor start after opener Kusal Perera (4) was caught behind on the sixth ball of the innings. Another veteran Kumar Sangakkara perished for a duck two runs later, leaving his team tottering at 7/2.
However, the 37-year-old Jayawardene showed his hunger for runs to score a well-planned 118 to bring up his 12,000 runs in ODI cricket. He caressed 12 boundaries and hit one six in his 125-ball innings.
Though opening batsman Dilshan was slow, he gave good support to Jayawardene to take his team out of trouble and strike a solid 105-run third wicket partnership which was eventually broken when Dilshan was caught off Ambati Rayudu.
Thereon, the tables turned for the visitors who could not forge big partnerships as Jayawardene kept running out of partners. The right hander, in order to accelerate the scoring, was stumped by India wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha with the team total at 225.
Seekkuge Prasanna contributed 29 runs lower down the order to take the visitors’ total to 242 before Sri Lanka were bowled out.
Pacer Umesh Yadav and left arm spinner Axar Patel were the pick of the Indian bowlers picking up four and three wickets, respectively.