A batting Powerplay that cost Sri Lanka three wickets for 16 runs sucked the oxygen out of an already imperiled innings, and set the visitors on course for a third hiding on the trot. Sri Lanka’s six-wicket loss in Hyderabad surrendered the series to India, who have not only been untested in the three matches so far, but have also discovered potential gems among their second-string players.
Akshar Patel is perhaps chief among them, removing three batsmen through the middle overs, while Umesh Yadav struck at either end of the innings to earn a career-best haul of 4 for 53.
Sri Lanka had recalled Nuwan Kulasekara for this match, but he could find little swing early on, and India’s batsmen quickly settled into a now familiar routine. They laid low for the first few overs, waited for the seam to grow soft, then began to play their strokes. Ajinkya Rahane fell to Thisara Perera’s prolonged short-ball attack, but Dhawan and Rayudu picked up the pace quickly after that, ensuring 62 for 1 was as weak as India’s chase would look.
Dhawan looked set for a second ton in the series until he got a bad decision on 91, when a Kulasekara short ball took a deflection off his helmet, rather than his bat. Kohli though, breezed ahead at a run-a-ball raising his 31st ODI fifty and his 6000th run with the same stroke.