IND Vs SL 2nd ODI | Rahul handles India’s faltering innings, beats Sri Lanka by four wickets, leads 2-0 in series

KL Rahul

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Kolkata. Lokesh Rahul’s unbeaten half-century followed by fine bowling from Mohammed Siraj and Kuldeep Yadav helped India beat Sri Lanka by four wickets in the second ODI to take a 2-0 winning lead in the three-match series here on Thursday. Chasing Sri Lanka’s target of 216, India reached 219 for six with 6.4 overs to spare thanks to Rahul’s 103-ball 64 not out hitting six fours and his 75-run fifth-wicket partnership with Hardik Pandya (36). Won by scoring runs.

Left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep, who was in and out of the Indian team, made 51 at Eden Gardens while Siraj took three for 30 as Sri Lanka were bundled out for 215 in 39.4 overs. Umran Malik also took two wickets for 48 runs. Debutant opener Nuwanidu Fernando (50), Kusal Mendis (34) and Dunith Velalage (32) played useful innings for Sri Lanka. The third and final match of the series will be played in Thiruvananthapuram on January 15.

India had earlier also won the T20 series 2-1. India’s chase of the target did not get off to a good start. The hosts had lost the top four wickets for only 86 runs. Captain Rohit Sharma (17) opened the account with a four off Kasun Rajita, while Shubman Gill (21) also hit Lahiru Kumara (2/64) for two consecutive fours. Rohit pulled Kumara’s ball and sent it for six runs but Chamika Karunaratne (2 for 51) had him caught by wicketkeeper Mendis.

Gill also hit Kumara for two consecutive fours but played the next ball straight into the hands of Avishka Fernando over short midwicket. Virat Kohli, who scored a century in the previous match, also played Kumara’s ball on the wickets after scoring just four runs. Shreyas Iyer (28) looked in fine touch during his brief innings. He hit Karunaratne for two consecutive fours but was trapped leg before by a fast coming inside ball from Kasun Rajitha. Iyer resorted to DRS but had to return to the pavilion when the umpires’ call came.

Rahul and Pandya handled the innings after this. Both batting with caution completed the century of the team’s runs in the 20th over. Rahul and Pandya took one more two runs to further the score. Meanwhile, Pandya also hit two fours in Rajita’s over. Rahul completed the half-century partnership with a four off Kumara while Pandya welcomed Dhananjay de Silva with a four. Both took the team’s score to 150 runs in the 32nd over. Shanaka then handed the ball to Karunaratne and he broke the partnership by getting Pandya caught by wicket-keeper Mendis, not disappointing the captain.

Pandya faced 53 balls and hit four fours. The in-form Akshar Patel (21) eased the pressure on India by hitting Karunaratne’s no ball for a four and then a free hit six. Akshar, however, caught Karunaratne at the boundary in an attempt to play another big shot off Dhananjay’s ball. Rahul completed his half-century in 93 balls with one run off Rajita. India needed only 25 runs in the last 10 overs and Rahul combined with Kuldeep Yadav (10 not out) to take India to victory. Earlier, the innings of Nuwanidu and Mendis reduced Sri Lanka to 102 for one, despite being in a good position at one stage, within 40 overs.

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Kuldeep was dropped from the playing XI for the next Test despite taking five wickets in an innings on his return in the first Test against Bangladesh in Chittagong last month. He was given a chance in the playing XI on Thursday after leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal was ruled out due to swelling in his right shoulder. Kuldeep destroyed Sri Lanka’s middle order. He also bowled Sri Lankan captain Dasun Shanaka (02), who scored an unbeaten century in the last match. The visitors lost five wickets in 43 balls in the middle, dashing their hopes of posting a big score on a flat pitch. Nuwanidu, who opened the innings after in-form opener Pathum Nissanka was ruled out due to a stiff back, looked in fine touch and added 73 runs for the second wicket with Mendis.

Sri Lanka won the toss and decided to bat first, after which Siraj gave India the first breakthrough by bowling Avishka Fernando (20) on an inside ball in the sixth over. Earlier, he had hit Siraj for three consecutive fours. Nuwanidu and Mendis then took the score past 100 runs.

Kuldeep broke the partnership by lbw to Mendis while Akshar Patel bowled Dhananjay D’Silva (00) a ball later. Nuwanidu was run out after completing his half-century, the victim of Gill’s brilliant fielding. Kuldeep then dismissed Shanaka and Charit Aslanka (15) to reduce Sri Lanka’s score from 102 for one to 126 for six. Velalage and Wanindu Hasaranga (21) played a key role in taking the team’s score beyond 200 runs by playing useful innings in the lower order. (agency)

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