India skipper Virat Kohli led from the front with a smashing unbeaten century to guide his team to a three-wicket win in the fifth and final One-Day International (ODI), clean-sweeping the series 5-0 at the JSCA International Stadium here Sunday.
On a day of captains, Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews hammered a brilliant 139 not out to guide the visitors to a challenging total of 286/8 after electing to bat. However, despite a few hiccups, Kohli’s knock of 139 not out off 126 deliveries — his 21st ODI ton — guided India home with eight balls to spare.
After hitting his first ODI century, Mathews gave Sri Lanka a brilliant chance in the match as he bowled Indian openers Ajinkya Rahane (2) and Rohit Sharma (9), who hit a world-record 264 in the previous match at Kolkata, with the score reading 14/2 in the fifth over.
In come Ambati Rayudu (59) and man of the series Kohli who joined hands to strike an important 136-run third-wicket partnership to stabilise the reeling Indian ship. Rayudu hit a smooth half-century, which included eight boundaries and a six, with Kohli giving him good company.
However, a terrible misunderstanding led to Rayudu’s run-out with India’s score at 150.
Ajantha Mendis’ spin became a mystery for Indian batsman as the 29-year-old made a brilliant turnaround for the visitors, giving them a real chance to salvage a win.
Mendis took the wickets of Robin Uthappa (19), debutant Kedar Jadhav (20), Stuart Binny (12) and Ravichandran Ashwin (0) to turn the tables on India with the target suddenly looking monumental with their score at 231/7.
Kohli, however, slowly kept the run-flow going and finally found support in left-hander Axar Patel (17 not out).
Once he got the support he needed, the stand-in India skipper hit a flurry of sixes and boundaries and the target kept getting closer and closer till Kohli hit a six to win the match — and clean-sweep the series.
Earlier, Sri Lanka got off to a decent start with opener Tillakaratne Dilshan (35) in punishing mood.
Debutant Niroshan Dickwella (4) was the first to be dismissed in the fifth over. The visitors suffered another setback in the next over as the dangerous Dilshan was sent packing by the innocuous medium-pace of Binny.
Sri Lanka lost some impetus after Dilshan’s dismissal and lost further ground following two more quick strikes by India.
Wicketkeeper batsman Dinesh Chandimal’s (5 runs off 31 balls) struggle at the crease was brought to an end by Patel, who picked up two wickets.
Former captain Mahela Jayawardene’s (32) blossoming innings came to a pre-mature end as Sri Lanka slumped to 85/4 after 18.3 overs.
Man of the Match Mathews and Lahiru Thirimanne (52) got together and stitched a 128-run stand for the fifth wicket to bring the islanders back in the game.
The Sri Lanka skipper smashed 10 sixes on way to his maiden hundred and, thanks to his blitzkrieg at the fag end of the innings, the visitors managed to score 73 runs off the final five overs despite losing three wickets.
Dhawal Kulkarni picked up three wickets but received some stick from the Sri Lankan batsmen, conceding 57 runs off his eight overs. Patel and Ashwin chipped in with two wickets each while Binny took one. (IANS)