MS Dhoni and Bhuvneshwar Kumar held their nerve to take India to a 3-wicket win (D/L method) over Sri Lanka after Akila Dananjaya took career-best 6 wickets in a devastating spell in the 2nd ODI in Pallekelle.
Dananjaya who got married yesterday and one of the three changes to the hosts from Dambulla’s 9-wicket hiding, bamboozled the Indian batting lineup with a package of googlies, leg-breaks, off-spinners to restrict India to 131 for 7 before Kumar and Dhoni combined to add an unbroken 100-run stand to chase the revised target of 231.
India took the chase lightly and shifted their batting order by sending KL Rahul at 3 and Kedhar Jadav at 4. The 18th over delivered by Dananjaya turned the tables, when Jadav, Kohli and Rahul, all three of them were foxed by the googly in the 1st, 3rd and 5th balls respectively and got their stumps disturbed.
Dananjaya completed his maiden five-wicket haul in just 13 balls when Hardik Pandya failed to read the wrong un’, came down the track and was stumped in the 20th over. After being 109 for no loss, India lost 7 wickets for 22 runs when Axar Patel became Akila’s 6th victim, trapped LBW by a non-spinning off-break.
Despite Akila’s heroics, none of the seamers managed to break the partnership thus Dhoni was cool as a cucumber in the middle along with Kumar who struck his maiden half-century.
Sri Lanka were 5 down for 121 earlier before Milinda Siriwardena and Chamara Kapugedara added 91 runs for the 6th wicket with utmost responsibiliy to take Sri Lanka to a reasonable 236/8. A brief, steady drizzle delayed the Indian chase and reduced the match to a 47-over affair.
Siriwardena who was drafted into the ODI side after almost 5 months, was the most impressive batsman scoring a run-a-ball 58 to notch up his 3rd half-century. Kapugedara played the second fiddle, scoring a 61-ball 40 with 2 fours before both the batsmen were dismissed by Jasprit Bumrah in the latter stages of the Lankan innings.
Earlier after being sent into bat by Virat Kohli, Sri Lanka’s in-form opening batsman Niroshan Dickwella smashed 3 fours and 2 sixes during his 24-ball 31 before he misread Bumrah’s slower ball and chipped straight to Dhawan as the opening stand lasted only 41 runs and 7.4 overs. Gunathilaka prodded to a 37-ball 19 before he became Dhoni’s 99th ODI stumping, missing a well-floated up delivery by leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal.
Skipper Upul Tharanga edged to the only slip off Hardik Pandya, jabbing away from his body, without any foot movement at a pitched-up delivery. Kusal Mendis played across the line, sweeping Chahal and was caught LBW while experienced Angelo Mathews did the same mistake, this time against left-arm spinner Axar Patel.
The Indian openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan got the visitors off to a stunning start as they clobbered the Lankan bowlers to all parts of the ground. Sharma smashed 5 fours and 3 sixes for his 45-ball 54 before he was caught plumb in front by Dananjaya with a leg-spinner.
Six balls later, Siriwardena struck with the ball thanks to a brilliant, diving catch by Angelo Mathews at short fine-leg to dismiss Dhawan for 49 and change the complexion of the game.
With this win, India lead the five-match series, 2-0 with the third game scheduled at the same venue on Sunday, 27th August.