Virat Kohli led India to their first series win of the year as the Men in Blue thrashed Sri Lanka by 78 runs in the third and final T20I to win the series 2-0. After the first game in Guwahati was abandoned without a ball being bowled, the hosts had won the second one in Indore by seven wickets. Just like the second game, the third game was also a lopsided contest.
Sri Lanka won the toss but just could not pose any challenge for India. KL Rahul continued his fine form and Shikhar Dhawan also bounced back to form as the openers added 97 for the first wicket. Dhawan was the first to depart after scoring 52 while Rahul departed for 54. In between them, Sanju Samson fell for 6 while Shreyas Iyer failed too as India lost four wickets in quick succession to find themselves reeling at 122 for 4.
Virat Kohli and Manish Pandey then took the score past the 150-run mark before the skipper was run out for 26. Pandey, on the other hand, remained till the end and scored 31 from just 18 while Shardul Thakur played a fine cameo of 22 from 8 balls to help the host post 201 for 6.
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In reply, Sri Lanka were all out for a paltry 123 inside 16 overs. Their chase looked very much done and dusted when they lost Danushka Gunathilaka, Avishka Fernando, Oshada Fernando and Kusal Perera for just 26 runs. Angelo Mathews and Dhananjaya de Silva stopped the rot by adding 68 runs for the fifth wicket. But once Mathews was dismissed by Washington Sundar, the floodgates opened again and Sri Lanka were soon bowled out.
Speaking after the game, Virat Kohli started by pointing out that the team has started the year on a good note. He was also full of praise for the likes of Manish Pandey and Sharduk Thakur who helped the team finish the inning strongly after a middle-order collapse.
“A good start to this year. We started on the right track, chasing one game and setting the other. Very clinical as well, so I am very happy. Just the confidence of getting that 200 mark will help us. The middle collapse was challenging but what Manish and Shardul did in the end really helped. We saw guys who turned up and who put their hands up when the senior guys don’t perform and need more of this in the coming games as well.
We wanted to plug some of the gaps. I think today as well, we thought 180 at one stage and crossed 200. In Mumbai as well, we thought 200 and crossed 230. We don’t want to be a team which is tentative while batting first, and we want to show the same attitude which we bring in chases while batting first as well,” said Virat Kohli.
The skipper was also asked about the opening combination the team could opt once Rohit Sharma returns. In reply, he made it clear that while Rohit is a guaranteed choice, the team will have to pick one between Rahul and Dhawan based on form.
“All three (Rohit, Dhawan and Rahul) are solid players, it all boils down to who is batting better. Rohit has been a consistent performer. People must stop pitting people against each other and I don’t believe in doing that at all,” said Kohli.