Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
India looked down and out following Akila Dananjaya’s unbelievable six-wicket haul, but pace bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar and wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni came to the rescue and led their side to a spectacular three-wicket win in the second ODI in Pallekele.
Kumar, who scored a career-best 53, and Dhoni, who made 45 not out, put together an unbeaten 100-run partnership to guide their side to victory, which is now the highest eighth-wicket partnership for India in ODIs.
It is also the highest eighth-wicket partnership in a successful chase in ODIs.
India now lead the series 2-0 after crushing Sri Lanka by nine wickets in the first ODI.
Being put in to bat first, Sri Lanka got off to a solid start before opener Niroshan Dickwella was caught by Shikhar Dhawan at midwicket off the bowling of Jasprit Bumrah for 31.
Danushka Gunathilaka only made 19 before being stumped by Mahendra Singh Dhoni off the bowling of Yuzvendra Chahal, while captain Upul Tharanga was dismissed by Hardik Pandya for nine runs.
Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews fell shortly after, but Milinda Siriwardana and Chamara Kapugedara stabilised the innings with a 91-run partnership, during which Siriwardana brought up his half-century.
However, he was unable to convert it into a bigger score as he was caught by Rohit Sharma at cover off the bowling of Bumrah for 58, which came off 58 balls and included two boundaries and a six.
Kapugedara went on to make 40 runs before he was clean bowled by Bumrah.
Thanks to Siriwardana and Kapugedara, Sri Lanka managed to finish on 236/8 off their 50 overs.
Bumrah was the pick of the bowlers with four wickets, while Chahal took two, and Pandya and Axar Patel chipped in with one wicket apiece.
However, before India’s innings could get underway, the heavens parted and India’s target was revised to 231 runs off 47 overs.
Rohit and Dhawan ensured India got off to an excellent start as they amassed a 109-run partnership, during which Rohit surpassed his fifty.
With India in complete control, Sri Lanka struck back with two wickets in quick succession.
First to go was Rohit, who was trapped lbw off the bowling of Dananjaya in the 16th over for 54, which came off 45 balls and included five boundaries and three sixes.
The very next over, Dhawan was on his way back to the pavilion after being brilliantly caught by Mathews off the bowling of Siriwardana for 49.
In the over that followed, Dananjaya ripped through India’s batting line-up as he took out Kedar Jadhav, captain Virat Kohli and Lokesh Rahul.
Pandya and Patel became Dananjaya’s fifth and sixth victims respectively as India were reduced to 131/7.
However, in a rather miraculous turn of events, Kumar and Dhoni kept India at bay and finished things off with an unbeaten 100-run partnership, during which Kumar brought up his fifty.
Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Kumar finished on 53 off 80 balls, which included four boundaries and a six, while Dhoni remained undefeated on 45 off 68 deliveries, which included a solitary boundary.
Dananjaya was easily the most successful bowler with six wickets, while Siriwardana claimed one.
Tharanga was gutted to have lost the match, and said: “Disappointed, we came really close. We didn’t capitalise again. They had a good start. Once they needed 100 runs, we tried everything. We just couldn’t get the breakthrough. Our bowling and fielding has improved.”
Kohli was relieved that his side managed to get across the finish line, and said: “Quite an exciting game of cricket, fans and players entertained. Good to come through eventually. Two 100-run partnerships in a chase of 230 with seven wickets, that’s quite bizarre. When you’re 110 for 1, in a chase of 230, you want to give everyone a chance to bat. We don’t have any regrets.
“If i had gone at No. 3, I would have still missed that ball because he was bowling that well. We thought he was the off-spinner with a good leg-break, but he got four wickets off googlies. We’ll be more careful next time. Credit to him for pitching the ball in the right areas.”
Dananjaya was named Man of the Match, and said: “The off-spin was working, so continuously used the variations. I came back to the hotel at around 11pm last evening.”