Kolkata: Deepak Chahar showed the allrounder in him as India pulled themselves out of an awkward situation to tame Sri Lanka by three wickets in a thriller to take an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the three-match One-day International series. The third one-dayer, now of academic interest, will be played on Friday.
An unedefeated 77-run partnership for the eighth wicket between Chahar (69 off 82 balls) and Bhubaneshwar Kumar (19 off 28 balls) took them over the line after they lost a cluster of wickets and were struggling at 193 for the loss of seven wickets.
The Islanders, whose cricketers had been under fire in recent months for a string of insipid performances while Cricket Sri Lanka had been equally responsible in settling a protracted pay dispute, show a disciplined approach and came close to embarrass the fancied team. Choosing to bat first, Dasun Shanaka’s young team showed their first priority was to bat through 50 overs to reach a challenging total 275 for nine. Lower-order batsman Chamika Karunaratne hit an unbeaten 44 after Avishka Fernando (50) and Charith Asalanka (65) took on the Indian bowling.
Chasing the target, the Indian top order adopted a cavalier approach with Prithvi Shaw (13) and Ishan Kishan (1) falling to rash strokes. Suryakumar Yadav, who scored his first half-century in his second ODI, was the topscorer with 53 off 44 balls but India kept losing wickets on regular intervals.
Earlier, leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and pace spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar took three wickets each while quick bowler Chahar claimed two to put in an allround show.
Fernando got Sri Lanka off to a strong start with a 70-run opening stand with wicketkeeper-batsman Minod Bhanuka, who made 36. Chahal broke through with two successive strikes, sending back Bhanuka and Bhanuka Rajapaksa for nought.
Fernando kept up the fight with his fourth ODI half-century and put on 47 runs with Dhananjaya de Silva for the third wicket. But the opener soon fell to Kumar after his 50 off 71 balls.
Bowlers struck back with middle-order wickets, but the left-handed Asalanka took the attack to the opposition with a maiden ODI fifty in his fourth match.
Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 275 for nine wickets off 50 overs (A. Fernando 50, M. Bhanuka 36, C. Asalanka 65; B. Kumar 3/54, D. Chahar 2/53, Y. Chahal 3/50) vs India vs India 277 for seven off 49.1 ov (S. Yadav 53, D. Chahar 69 not out, K. Pandya 35; W. Hasaranga 3/37). India won by 3 wickets.