India beat Sri Lanka by four wickets in their second ODI at Eden Gardens in Kolkata. The victory was enough for them to win the series, and they will now be looking to finish the job in the third game in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday.
However, unlike the first match in Guwahati, this was no run fest, but was decided by the bowlers, with Kuldeep Yadav Player of the Match for the home side.
India decided to bring in Kuldeep Yadav for Deepak Chahal, whilst Sri Lanka were forced into a replacement, with Dilshan Madushanka having picked up a shoulder injury whilst fielding in that game. Lahiru Kumara was brought in to take his place in the bowling attack.
Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to bat first, anticipating that the pitch would get slower and begin to wear later in the day.
Avishka Fernando made a bright start, but was bowled by Mohammed Siraj for 20, and it was left to his namesake Nuwanidu to carry the innings.
He made a half century and Kusal Mendis scored 34, but the Sri Lankan innings was undermined by them losing five wickets for the addition of just 24 runs.
For once, their captain, Dasun Shanaka, who scored an unbeaten century in the first match, and had been in fine form in the T20I series, could not come to the rescue of his side, out for just two this time, one of the victims of Yadav.
It was left to the tail enders to add some gloss to the score-line, Dunith Wellalage making 32, , but his side were all out for 215 in the 40th over, which was well below what was a par score on this pitch.
Kuldeep Yadav took 3 – 51, and Mohammed Siraj 3 – 30, whilst there were two wickets for Umran Malik.
India made comparatively hard work of what seemed a simple task, and their top order, which had been so fluent in the first match found it much tougher going this time.
Virat Kohli, who had made his 45th ODI century in Guwahati, fell for just 4 this time.
It was left to KL Rahul, whose place in the side has been under threat after a poor run of form, to help put his side back on track, sharing a stand of 75 for the fifth wicket with Hardik Pandya.
When he had reached 36, Pandya was caught, but Rahul added 30 more with Axar Patel, and eventually helped steer his side to victory with an unbeaten 64.
It took him 103 balls and, only contained 6 fours, but, in the context of the match, was invaluable.
India reached their target with four wickets and more than six overs in hand.
Chamika Karunaratne and Kumara both finished with two wickets to their name, but they were expensive.
Key Talking Points
Yadav proves his value
Yadav proved his value once more to India, after often being the fall guy in the past, the first to be dropped when either he, or the team, has a bad performance.
But he offers a different option with his left armed spin, and his brief cameo with the bat ensured that there were no undue alarms at the end of the innings.
He would argue that he now deserves a more prolonged run in the side.
Rahul answering his critics
Another man who has come in for his fair share of criticism recently is Rahul, and he was recently stripped of the vice-captaincy of the T20I side.
However, he has a dual role for his side, also taking the wicketkeeping gloves, and with Rishabh Pant potentially absent for a while as he recovers from injury after his car crash, he would well be asked to fulfil the position going into the World Cup.
He is primarily in the side, though, to score runs, and having made 39 in Guwahati, this latest innings will be a major boost to his confidence.
Sri Lanka will be disappointed
Sri Lanka will be disappointed with their performance in this match, and the responsibility lies primarily with their batters.
Eden Gardens traditionally favours the batting team, and winning the toss gave them the advantage of batting first.
However, they committed the criminal offence of not batting out their overs, and their final total was way short of one that their bowlers could defend.
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