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09 November 201421:56 By Shamya Dasgupta

Dhawan steers India to series win

Jayawardena’s stylish 118 lone bright spot for Sri Lanka in third ODI

Dhawan steers India to series win - Cricket News

India beats Sri Lanka in the third ODI and takes a 3-0 lead in the five-match series.

In Sunday’s (November 9) third One-Day International against Sri Lanka, India emerged the victor by six wickets at a near-packed Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Uppal, Hyderabad. Aside from a battling effort from Mahela Jayawardena (118), India cantered to a win, wrapping up the five-match series with two to go.

For India to falter after restricting Sri Lanka to 242 in 48.2 overs, it would have needed an extraordinary effort from the visiting side. There was a steeply rising delivery from Thisara Perera that Ajinkya Rahane (31 in 47 balls) fended to Jayawardena at first slip. And there was big miscommunication between Shikhar Dhawan and Ambati Rayudu that led to both ending up at the bowler’s end, Rayudu (35 in 46) having to walk back. Sri Lanka needed much more around that stage.

India was steady on a comfortable pitch with a small target to chase and would hope to carry its form into the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 in Australia and New Zealand. Dhawan stroked the ball superbly while Rahane and Rayudu looked solid while they lasted too. And Kohli was businesslike, out to wrap things up as quickly as possible.

Dhawan cut and pulled, and drove and nudged, never in anger, but with good effect, skipping around the crease and finding the boundaries. Along the way, he became the fastest India batsman and fifth fastest to reach 2000 ODI runs, in just 48 innings.

Dhawan was given out caught behind off Nuwan Kulasekara after scoring a 79-ball 91. Then Kohli (53 in 61 balls), who became the fastest to 6000 ODI runs when he reached 50, became the fourth man out, needlessly, when he tried to clear the ropes with seven runs to get. But the win was still sealed with 35 balls in hand, Suresh Raina and Wriddhiman Saha in the middle when the deed was done.

Earlier, while Jayawardena batted with Tillakaratne Dilshan, trying to get things in place for a late surge, he couldn’t have anticipated that, by the end of the 35th over, he would be on 78 and Sri Lanka would be at 154 for 6.

Jayawardena didn't look troubled apart from on occasion when he had to push his 37-year-old body to beat throws that threatened to catch him short. Along the way, there were the typical flicks from offstump, a ramp shot for four, a couple of pleasing drives, and lots of running. The pace trio of Umesh Yadav, Dhawal Kulkarni and Ishant Sharma, which made life difficult for Dilshan after Yadav had sent back Kusal Perera caught behind and Kumar Sangakkara caught by R Ashwin at first slip for a golden duck early, was negotiated with ease. And the spinners – Axar Patel, R Ashwin, Raina and Rayudu – were milked comfortably enough.

Around him, though, the cricket was taking place on a different pitch, against a different set of bowlers. Ishant, who left the field after bowling four overs, managed to induce an edge from Dilshan that fell just short of Saha when he was on 21, and then a top-edged cut off Patel went over Raina at widish slip when Dilshan was on 36.

It was important for Sri Lanka’s experienced batsmen – Jayawardena and Dilshan in this case – to bat through the innings and that explained their risk-free approach. But Dilshan, upon reaching his half-century, lashed out at a Rayudu delivery, only for Rahane to pull off a good catch at cover after he had scored 53 off 80 balls.

Things were still on an even keel at that stage – 112 for 3 after 25 overs. Sri Lanka were behind par on the scoring rate, but had wickets in hand.

That changed dramatically in the Batting Power Play, taken in the 31st over. Patel was in the thick of things as Sri Lanka went from 138 for 3 at the start of the five-over stretch to 154 for 6 by the end of it. He struck in each of his three overs – Mathews, Ashan Priyanjan and Chathuranga de Silva perishing as they tried to go aerial – on his way to figures of 3 for 40.

That Jayawardena got to his 17th ODI century was entirely due to the veteran stylist’s enterprise and a cameo from Seekkuge Prasanna, who hit two fours and one six in a 32-ball 29 late in the script. Jayawardena, who reached his fifty off 62 balls, needed 47 more to get to his century, reaching the milestone with a slog-swept six off Patel. The run rate finally crossed five-per-over after that, but in trying to lift it further, Jayawardena was dismissed when he stepped out and missed Ashwin’s straighter one, Saha pulling off a simple stumping. Jayawardena’s 118 came off 124 balls and included 12 fours and one six, and along the way, he became the fifth batsman after Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Sanath Jayasuria and Sangakkara to cross 12,000 runs in ODIs.

To see the scorecard and review the India v Sri Lanka match in full, please click here.