India 219/6 (Rahul 64*, Hardik 36, Karunaratne 2-51, Kumara 2-64) beat Sri Lanka 215 (Nuwanidu 50, Mendis 34, Velazquez 32, Siraj 3-30, Kuldeep 3-51) by 4 wickets
Sri Lanka were 102 for 1 in the 17th over when they collapsed to lose six wickets for 50 runs. The lower order saw them all out for 215 – the last wicket falling in the 40th over. But it was never going to be enough.
The innings failure was more due to Sri Lanka’s inefficiency in this format than India’s particular excellence. Mendis had batted well for his run-a-ball 34, but was hit on the back leg by a Kuldeep googly at the end of the 17th over, having misread slight turn. Dhananjay de Silva let Axar Patel’s arm ball slip between bat and pad; Aslanka gave an edge to bowler Kuldeep; Shanaka got too far inside the line and let Kuldeep spin through his pads and then into leg stump; Later, the bowling all-rounders (Wanindhu Hasaranga, Dunith Velez and Chamika Karunaratne) were all caught at backward point by Akshar, two of them off Malik’s bowling.
However, there was at least some value added in the flimsy third inning before he departed. Hasaranga made 21 out of 17, Karunaratne 17 out of 25, and Velález perhaps the most responsible innings of the trio, producing 32 out of 34, despite being the most junior. It was thanks to him that Sri Lanka breached 200.
Through Nuwanidu’s fifty, however, Sri Lanka had at least one positive. He was cautious against the new ball, dropped often, and defended heavily, although he rarely appeared concerned, even when he faced 10 unscored balls to start the first 20. Only 6 out of them were able to make it. his runs, and four of his six fours, there
India’s chase was not particularly clinical, and there were times when Sri Lanka had chances to mount an unlikely defense of a modest score. Shubman Gill scored 21 off 11 balls, hitting five fours, four of which were through cover or extra cover. But then he pulled Kumara straight to short midwicket and got out. Earlier, Rohit Sharma dismissed Chamika Karunaratne.
And when Virat Kohli was bowled on the inside edge (Kumara bowler), and Shreyas Iyer was trapped in front of Kasun Rajitha, it looked like Sri Lanka had a shot.
But the small fire that Hardik and Rahul had kindled was extinguished. His was a leisurely, risk-free stand, dismissing the Sri Lankan spinners, picking off singles and twos in place. The required rate was hardly relevant.
Hardik still needed 55 runs, but Rahul made sure he stayed at the crease to chase home. Three of his six fours were behind square and the other three between mid off and cover, but it was the defensive strokes and the single class of the wicket that defined his innings. He stitched a partnership with Axar, then chased home in the company of Kuldeep.
Now, 2-0 up, India have sealed the series.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf