Sri Lanka overcomes late stuttering for victory |


Sri Lanka have won crucial points in World Cup Super League

A fiery return with the ball – powered by Praveen Jayawickrama and Akila Dananjaya (two of three changes in Sri Lanka XI) – was followed by a century-old partnership between Avishka Fernando (76) and Bhanuka Rajapaksa (65) as Sri Lanka won the ODI final against India by three wickets. It was Sri Lanka’s second victory in 11 ODIs completed in 2021 as they gained crucial Super League points for the World Cup and ended an ODI home losing streak against India which had started in July 2012.

India’s innings were a two-half story – a productive one before a rain stoppage (which reduced the game to 47 overs) and a rather gloomy one after that. The visitors were in a strong position after pulling off 147 for 3 in 23 overs when the rain forced the players off the field. When they returned after a break of over an hour and a half, they lost their middle order in quick succession and could only add 78 points, losing seven wickets and not having exceeded their quota as three batsmen were made redundant in the 1940s.

India made up to six changes to their roster, which included the first five-man ODI caps – Sanju Samson, Nitish Rana, K Gowtham, Rahul Chahar and Chetan Sakariya. They had also lengthened their stick at the expense of a front row bowling option and launched a bowling attack that did not include anyone from the previous game except Hardik Pandya. The inexperienced bowling attack, however, didn’t pose much of a problem for Sri Lankan batsmen until Rahul Chahar burst at the end of the second inning. The hosts crossed the line with 8 overs to spare for a consolation victory, with India already claiming their ninth consecutive ODI bilateral series victory over Sri Lanka.

Fernando struck positively to help Sri Lanka get a steady start in the pursuit, hitting a four through Sakariya, whipping a delivery from Navdeep Saini over the thin-legged fence before pivoting into a Gowtham out for a limit. Minod Bhanuka was vigilant on the other end before sweeping a delivery from Gowtham straight to square-legged Sakariya. Despite the wicket, it was a decent first power play for Sri Lanka as Rajapaksa helped Fernando establish a stable partnership. Rajapaksa scored the majority of the limits in the second wicket association while Fernando used a measured approach as they scored at a good pace and kept their team on track.

With Pandya and Nitish Rana having to take on the responsibilities of fifth bowler and the field not offering much help, India’s bowling shortcomings became evident as Fernando and Rajapaksa recorded half centuries – the first one. took 53 deliveries for his milestone while the second arrived at his young ODI fifty out of 42 balls. Rajapaksa was also lucky as Dhawan and Sakariya gave tough chances while Sakariya himself was unlucky as Rana dropped a keeper in the depths to give No.3 another reprieve. But he eventually recovered his first ODI wicket when Rajapaksa saw Gowtham cover good ground to take a thin-leg hold. With a backhand delivery that had some extra bounce, Sakariya also claimed Dhananjaya’s wicket from Silva as he tried to revive India’s fortunes.

Sri Lanka got back on track in the pursuit after the slight derailment caused by Sakariya’s strikes, as Charith Asalanka assisted Fernando in a 43-run pit for the fourth wicket. The partnership, however, ended when Asalanka failed to read a slower delivery from Pandya and was trapped in front of it. Dasun Shanaka fell when he tried to control Chahar, who was unlucky not to pick Ramesh Mendis’ wicket while Prithvi Shaw caused a slip-up. Shaw made up for it by taking Fernando back from Chahar, who also blocked Karunaratne thanks to Samson’s pointy gloves. But those strikes came a bit too late as Sri Lanka overcame stuttering to return home with a revised target of 227.

Earlier, Samson was the first debutant in action, arriving in a single drop after Dhawan was caught by Dushmantha Chameera. Samson was initially happy to give Shaw the punch as he watched the opener hit a few timed shots to the limit. Samson’s top four moved up to third, as he hit the top six of the match by passing directly over Dananjaya’s header. Limits were a regular feature of the Shaw-Samson booth, as were singles and both, as the first pair of wickets built a positive partnership. However, Shaw missed half a century when he rushed to a delivery from Shanaka and was trapped in his front leg. Samson looked good for a big score, but was sacked for 46 when a half-hearted attempt to go upside down against Jayawickrama caused his downfall.

Suryakumar had a busy start, dealing with limitations and he also used a magazine to survive. He was involved in a promising partnership with Manish Pandey, but the ensuing rain break may have affected India’s momentum as they lost wickets in a heap. Pandey was lured into a drive while Hardik Pandya was pinned to the fold, Jayawickrama bagging both wickets. Suryakumar was fired the front leg by Dananjaya, who also represented K Gowtham (LBW on a full throw) and Nitish Rana (caught late for an impressive delivery) in the same way that India lost five wickets to the addition of 48 races in the 10 overs that followed the rain break. The wickets have meant that the limits have dried up, with India’s last four innings taking off from the last ball of the 29th. A vigilant 29-race stand between Saini and Chahar took India to 225, which was ultimately insufficient.

Brief Notes: India 225 in 43.1 overs (Prithvi Shaw 49, Sanju Samson 46; Akila Dananjaya 3-44, Praveen Jayawickrama 3-59) lost to Sri Lanka 227/7 in 39 overs (Avishka Fernando 76, Bhanuka Rajapaksa 65; Rahul Chahar 3-54, Chetan Sakariya 2-34) by 3 counters.

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