Plain sailing for India amidst chaos

Published : 9:20 am  August 28, 2017 | No comments so far |  | 


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By Shehan Daniel at Pallekele

cxcIt had been near capacity earlier in the evening but when India completed their series-clinching victory against Sri Lanka yesterday the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium had been half-emptied, with plastic bottles strewn around sections of the boundary lining, in an ugly end to the third ODI. 

With eight runs still required for victory a stoppage in play, caused by spectators hurling objects onto the playing area, compelled police officers to empty the east grass embankment of the stadium, and re-enforce security. Play was suspended for 32 minutes, during which time ground staff attempted to clean up plastic bottles, among other objects, with the players returning to complete the match afterwards. 

Rohit Sharma had frustrated the Sri Lankan spectators, scoring his 12th ODI century and third against Sri Lanka, having seen India from a difficult first 15 overs, whey they were 61/4, to a six-wicket win with 29 balls remaining. 

India made a shaky start with Shikhar Dhawan dragging onto his stumps in the third over, crediting Lasith Malinga his first wicket of the series. Three overs Vishwa Fernando had Virat Kohli caught at long leg, with Dushmantha Chameera taking a well-timed catch diving forward. 

Akila Dananjaya then struck in his first two overs – KL Rahul pulled a googly to deep square leg and Kedar Jadhav was out leg before wicket – as India lost four wickets and showed signs of another collapse. But Sharma led India’s counter-attack reaching his half-century in 64 balls, and scoring his next fifty runs in 54 deliveries with 16 boundaries and two sixes. 

Mahendra Singh Dhoni also played a pivotal part in India’s victory scoring 67 and striking a 157-run partnership with Sharma, who also remained unbeaten, on 124. Early wickets and a lack of middle and late innings momentum meant that Sri Lanka could only muster a below-par 217 in their 50 overs, with only one batsman scoring a half-century, and only one partnership exceeding that many runs. 
It didn’t help the hosts that the Indian bowlers were efficient, with only one bowler conceding more than five runs an over, and Jasprit Bumrah completing his first career five-wicket haul. Lahiru Thirimanne had marked his return to international cricket after almost 20 months with a well crafted 80 in 115 deliveries, showcasing some of his shot-making fluency in the five boundaries and solitary six, after Sri Lanka’s stand-in skipper Chamara Kapugedera managed what the team’s regular ODI and Test captains could not this entire tour – winning a toss.

An economical five-over opening spell from Bumrah however, with two maidens and just nine runs given away, reduced Sri Lanka to 37/2 in their first ten overs. Livewire opener Niroshan Dickwella struck two boundaries, but again struggled to cope with Bumrah’s line and length, falling victim to him for the second straight match. 

Kusal Mendis was caught at second slip in Bumrah’s fourth over, with Sharma moving to his right to grab a difficult catch. A 72-run partnership between Thirimanne and Dinesh Chandimal – opening the innings in the absence of Danushka Gunathilaka – took Sri lanka to 100 in the 26th over before Chandimal, hit on the thumb, was caught on the deep square leg boundary for 36. 

It was later revealed that Chandimal had sustained a hairline fracture, the severity of which would be only known after further tests. Angelo Mathews and Thirimanne, who put on the inning’s second best partnership of 36, fell within five overs of each other as Sri Lanka were 159/5 in the 40th over – Thirimanne flicking Bumrah to short the mid-wicket fielder.