Sri Lanka ended their losing streak on Friday as Avishka Fernando and Bhanuka Rajapaksa starred with the bat to guide their side to a consolatory, three-wicket win against India in the third and final ODI at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.
Needing 227 runs to win from 47 overs in a rain-curtailed match, debutant K Gowtham drew first blood in the second innings when Minod Bhanuka (7) holed out to Chetan Sakariya in the sixth over.
However, India were then made to toil for their next wicket as Fernando and Rajapaksa stitched an impressive 109-run stand for the second wicket. Sakariya sent the latter back to the pavilion on 65 and then got the better of Dhananjaya de Silva (7) to reduce the Lankans to 151/3 at the halfway mark.
While Fernando continued to hold one end, India got two more wickets at the other. Hardik Pandya caught Charith Asalanka plumb in front on 24, while Rahul Chahar got his first international wicket by dismissing skipper Dasun Shanaka for a first-ball duck.
The home side seemed in a spot of bother as Fernando (76) was dismissed late in the innings by Chahar. However, the period of uncertainty didn’t last long as the hosts got over the line with eight overs to spare.
Earlier in the day, Dhawan won the toss and opted to bat first but India failed to get off to a strong start as the captain was dismissed in the third over for 13 by Dushmantha Chameera.
Fellow opener Prithvi Shaw and debutant Sanju Samson steadied the visitors’ ship, putting on 74 runs for the second wicket. However, Shaw (49) and Samson (46) departed in a span of 17 balls as the hosts reduced India to 118/3 in 18.4 overs.
Manish Pandey (11) and Hardik Pandya (19) failed to create an impact left-arm spinner Praveen Jayawickrama sent both the batsman packing cheaply. Middle-order batsman Suryakumar Yadav scored a brisk 37-ball 40 but could not steer India to a strong total as they kept losing wickets regularly at the other end.
Eventually, and courtesy of a three-wicket haul each by Akila Dananjaya and Jayawickrama, the hosts restricted the ‘Men in Blue’ to 225/10 in 43.1 overs. Other debutants Gowtham (2) and Nitish Rana (7) failed to get going with the bat as well.
The focus now shifts to the three-match T20I series, beginning on Sunday, July 25. Just like the ODI series, all T20Is will also be played at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.