The Sri Lankan team has been facing enough ignominy and discomfiture on the field since the beginning of this bilateral series.
On Sunday, their spectators embarrassed them by throwing plastic bottles to the ground and subsequently holding the game for quite a few minutes in order to delay the inevitable result, i.e. another crushing and demoralising defeat. Sunday was the last chance for the hosts to make a comeback but they squandered it away by repeating the same mistakes.
Every cricket playing nation knows that this current Indian team excels at chasing totals in the limited overs cricket. But still, the standby Sri Lankan skipper elected to bat first after his team won the toss for the first time in this series. The idea was to put an insurmountable total on the board and crush India under scoreboard pressure in a slow and sluggish wicket as the cricket connoisseurs expected, that did not happen. Jasprit Bumrah got his first five wicket haul in ODIs by shattering the stumps over and over again. One of the main weapons in his arsenal is his toe-crushing Yorker which is becoming even more lethal day by day.
Among all the stories of lachrymose failures, only Thirimanne, the veteran Lankan southpaw, was able to show some fortitude against this Indian bowling attack. His score of 80 helped the hosts to cross the 200 run mark. Sirwardena also flailed his bat wildly to get to his 29 but eventually perished by a surgically precise Yorker by Bumrah.
Chasing an insignificant total of 218 should have been a cinch for a strong Indian bating line up but the men in blue began their run chase rather shakily. Dhawan became a victim of the law of average by chopping an innocuous delivery from Malinga to his stumps and was eventually followed by his skipper. After that, Dananjaya again spun webs around the Indians and reduced them to 61 for 4.
Rohit Sharma, on the other hand, played a swashbuckling innings and reached his first ODI hundred on the Sri Lankan soil. Had he not been run out in the first ODI, he would have made that innings count as well with the current form he is in. He was properly succoured by the erstwhile Indian skipper who scored 67 of 86 balls (his 65th fifty) in his usual unflustered manner. In their partnership, Dhoni and Rohit added 150 runs with taking minimal risk (except Rohit’s one buccaneering heave over mid wicket) and as effortlessly as possible.
If things continue to go this way, the hosts are probably going to suffer the humiliation of another clean sweep, albeit in a different format.
India 218 for 4 (Rohit 124*, Dhoni 67*, Dananjaya 2-38) defeated Sri Lanka 217 for 9 (Thirimanne 80, Bumrah 5-27) by six wickets