Shikhar Dhawan century guides India to eighth straight series win

Monitoring Desk

VIZAG: A superlative century from Shikhar Dhawan helped India beat Sri Lanka in the third and final ODI by eight wickets with the hosts sealing the series 2-1 here on Sunday. Chasing 216, India hunted down the target in just 32.1 overs with Dhawan remaining unbeaten on 100 – his 12th century in ODIs. Indian spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal shared three wickets each for India as Sri Lanka squandered a blistering start provided by Upul Tharanga (95 off 82). Sri Lanka collapsed to 215 all out from a promising 160 for two.

In reply, India lost captain Rohit Sharma in the fourth over with Akila Dananjaya slipping in a beautiful googly to clean him up on 7. Shreyas Iyer then joined Dhawan in the middle and together they steered the Indian chase. The two added 145 runs between them before Shreyas (65) was out after scoring his second consecutive half-century. Dhawan though continued as he struck 14 fours and two sixes to reach three figures and also became the sixth fastest batsman to score 4000 runs in ODIs. He was well supported by Dinesh Karthik who remained unbeaten on 26 off 31.

The wicket offered decent turn for the spinners but Sri Lanka failed to apply themselves, losing the last five wickets in the space of 18 runs and the last eight for 55 runs. Put in to bat by Rohit, Sri Lanka were cruising with Tharanga and Sadeera Samarawickrama (42) sharing a 121-run stand for the second wicket after Danushka Gunathilaka (13) fell in the fourth over. Tharanga played some superb shots and was not afraid to hit aerial. The southpaw hit all his three sixes off Chahal, who otherwise was the best bowler on show with his drift and turn troubling the batsmen.

Tharanga played fluent drives and flicks as he forged a fruitful stand with Samarawickrama, who came up with some enterprising strokes of his own. In the sixth over, an edge by Samarawickrama fell short of the Shikhar Dhawan at slips off Bumrah’s bowling. Hardik Pandya came in as the first change bowler in the seventh over, replacing Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

He was taken for 20 runs in his second over by Tharanga, who looked increasingly confident but got lucky on a few occasions. Chinaman Kuldeep was introduced in the 12th over by the Indian skipper in an attempt to curtail the run flow but the Tharanga-Samarawickrama partnership carried on untroubled. The introduction of Chahal in the 17th over did not alter the fortunes much though as the two batsmen mixed caution with aggression to counter him.

Tharanga, in particular, went on the attack against the Haryana leg-spinner and smashed three big sixes. Samarawickrama was dropped on 29 by Dinesh Karthik at mid-wicket, when attempting a flick against Kuldeep. It was a tough chance. Pandya was re-introduced into the attack in the 22nd over after a first spell of 3-0-23-0 and Samarawickrama played a fluent punch off the second ball for a boundary. He looked good for more when he fell for 42, flaying a widish delivery on to the off-side only to be caught by Dhawan at deep-cover.

The seasoned Angelo Matthews, who walked in following his exit, put on 24 overs with Tharanga, before the left-hander was stumped by MS Dhoni off Kuldeep’s bowling for 95.

The opener, who missed out on a well-deserved ton, completed 1,000 runs for the calendar year during the course of the knock. Thereafter, it all went downhill for Sri Lanka.

A lot depended on Matthews after the dismissal of Tharanga, who till the start of the series was Sri Lanka’s ODI captain.

The star allrounder, looked to be getting into the groove, before being cleaned up by a beauty from Chahal. The leggie got one to turn sharply from outside leg to end Mathews’ stay at the crease, leaving the visitors at 189 for five.

Captain Thisara Perera didn’t last long either, falling lbw to Chahal for six. He was caught on the crease, trying to cut the leg-spinner’s stock delivery. He reviewed the decision with the third umpire Paul Reiffel upholding the on-field umpire’s call.

In the 37th over, Asela Gunaratne survived a run-out chance as the bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar fumbled a throw from Karthik after a diving attempt to stop Pathirana’s shot.

Earlier, both sides made one change each to their playing eleven with India bringing in Kuldeep in place of an ill Washington Sundar and Lanka replacing the misfiring Lahiru Thirimanne with Samarawickrama.