When a rampaging Suryakumar Yadav fell on 53 with India 115 runs away and only four wickets standing, Sri Lanka would have thought this would be the night to end their unremarkable record of not having beaten India at home for nine years.
But such is the depth in what is India’s reserve outfit that if their top order won’t, the lower order will. Bowling all-rounder Deepak Chahar coming in at No. 8 struck many lusty blows to score an unbeaten 69 in a fine finishing act that would have made his CSK skipper MS Dhoni proud. He combined with Bhuvneshwar Kumar (19*) for a match-winning 84-run eight-wicket partnership to help India seal the 3-match ODI series 2-0.
It was business as usual in the first two overs in India’s chase of 276. Prithvi Shaw seemed to be continuing on his boundary spree with three eye-catching drives in the first over. Skipper Shikhar Dhawan matched him with cuts and pulls—three fours for him in the next over. That’s when the Sri Lankan think tank, alert to the occasion, introduced spin early to challenge Shaw. He soon fell, second match in a row, this time to a Wanindu Hasaranga googly. From that moment on the script began to go awry for India.
Ishan Kishan, who debuted with a stroke-filled 50 in the first ODI, this time found a mistimed cut crashing into the stumps early. Hasaranga got Dhawan (29) lbw in the 12th over. And when a set Manish Pandey got out on 37, run out by the bowler on his follow through at the non-striker’s end, it seemed Sri Lanka had luck on their side.
But Yadav, playing his second ODI, took charge after Hardik Pandya was dismissed in the 18th over when India was reduced to 116/5. There is a lot more to Yadav than his T20 pyrotechnics which is evident from his decade-long domestic record for Mumbai. Riding on the new found confidence from international success, Yadav brought on the entire range, from the patent inside-out shots and sweeps to spinners as well as a stab over the ‘keeper and a rasping cut against the quicks. His quickfire 50 turned the tide when Sri Lanka had begun to tighten the screws on the visitors.
Amongst the Indian bowlers’ Yuzvendra Chahal (3/50) stood out with his controlled leg spin. Kumar and Chahar who began bowling military medium got their rewards when they switched to pace off deliveries, taking 5 wickets between.