The Santa caps made their way in place of the usual blue ones. The most unique one was reserved for the senior-most Dhoni. India definitely made their Christmas merrier (Image courtesy: AFP)
The Santa caps made their way in place of the usual blue ones. The most unique one was reserved for the senior-most Dhoni. India definitely made their Christmas merrier (Image courtesy: AFP)

MS Dhoni’s scripts are written upstairs. The Kohlis and Rohits of the world maybe plundering all the runs but Dhoni has a knack of keep us journalists on the toes. The year began with a shocker when Dhoni stepped down as India’s limited-overs captain. Now 2017 ends for India with Dhoni finishing off ‘in style’. On the Christmas Eve at Mumbai, Dhoni flicked a miscued Thisara Perera-yorker to the square-leg boundary in the final over to guide India to a 3-0 whitewash over Sri Lanka.

India have won almost everything this year. Despite the team being laden with fringes it was quite fitting that India ended their year on high.

Here are moments that defined the third T20I at the Wankhede Stadium:

The youngest Indian T20I player

Twenty minutes before the toss, Indian selector Sarandeep Singh handed Washington Sundar his T20I cap. He became India’s 72nd and youngest T20I player.

It wasn’t a long wait for Sundar to be in action. He opened the bowling, foxed Kusal Perera to a false stroke, finished with figures of 4-0-22-1. He ensured India will continue to have a happy selection nightmare in shorter formats.

Rohit Sharma wins a toss

 Sri Lanka have been brilliant with tosses. That’s the only thing they have won consistently this series. Wankhede is Rohit’s zone. The coin decided to favour Rohit here. He won his first toss this series and second overall.

 

© AFP
© AFP

Doesn’t matter. He won the ODIs 2-1 and T20Is 3-0.

Unadkat’s bunny

Jaydev Unadkat international career has been interesting. Thrown into deep waters in South Africa as a teenager, he has come a long way. He made his Test debut in 2010. A wait of three years and the ODI debut came along. Another three-year wait and he got his T20I cap in Zimbabwe, in 2016.

A year-and-half later he found himself back in the Indian squad. With his comeback he also found his bunny. The fiery Niroshan Dickwella perished in Unadkat’s first over. The left-arm pacer has now dismissed him in all three occasions in this series.

© AFP
© AFP

Unadkat finished with 4-0-15-2. Not only he won the Man of the Match award he was also chosen the Man of the Series as he finished with four wickets from three games with an economy of 4.88. Mind you, he bowled in the Powerplay and at the death!

Unadkat seems like the ideal candidate to step into the vacant boots of Ashish Nehra.

Thank You, Sri Lanka

Mitchell Johnson recently said that when it came to England he preferred Australia hammered them than games ending in close contests. Contrary to his views, crowds and viewers love contests. The capacity crowd at Wankhede Stadium was no different either.

Being fair to the sport, it’s fine to say that Sri Lanka have been listless in this tour. Seldom have they managed upper hand. India weren’t batting first and Sri Lanka were reduced to 18 for 3 in the fourth over, which meant another borefest was on cards. Asela Gunaratne (36) and Dasun Shanaka (29*) pleased the otherwise hostile Mumbai crowd with a few boundaries.

Sri Lanka managed some respectability with 135.

A glimpse of a Rohit-show

Akila Dananjaya started well. He almost entered through the gates again when Rohit didn’t pick a wrong-un. India were off to a slow start but Rohit found his mark. Soon came four delectable fours and a towering six. In bid to continue the spectacle Rohit perished for a 20-ball 27.

Sri Lanka’s rare fight

Sri Lanka had reduced India to 56 for 2 after 10 overs. Manish Pandey and Shreyas Iyer shared a 42-run stand but runs did not come easy. Sri Lankan bowlers ensured they weren’t big partnerships, sending back Iyer, Pandey and Hardik Pandya in a span of 27 runs.

Dhoni, DK

MS Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik got back a long way. Karthik broke into the national side before Dhoni. As documented in the Dhoni biopic, selectors were caught in a fix between the teenaged Karthik and the unorthodox Dhoni ahead of the Bangladesh tour in 2004-05. Sourav Ganguly uttered ‘Dhoni’. Rest is history.

Karthik since has had an on-and-off run. He may not have kept wickets regularly but he has donned multiple roles from a Test opener to a finisher. He was the guy who hit the winning runs in India’s first ever T20I, and was declared the Man of the Match.

Dhoni and Karthik were at the crease with India needing 28 off 23 balls.

Dhoni wasn’t middling anything and Karthik, not for the first time in his career, was letting anxiety get better of him. Then came a rank-bad full toss from Nuwan Pradeep in the final ball of the penultimate over. Karthik slammed it on the on-side for a six. India needed 3 off the final over.

Dhoni finishes off in style

India, Sri Lanka and Wankhede are bound rekindle memories. Dhoni was on srike, at the same end from where he had hoisted Nuwan Kulasekara to the stands to hand India their second World Cup. The expectation was no less this time. Another Dhoni six to finish it? This time came a flick.

Dhoni’s Santa makeover

India’s beauty lies in its diverse, secular and pluralistic society. Less than 2.5 per cent of the Indian population follows Christianity but that does not stop Christmas from being one of India’s biggest festivals.

Wankhede was soaked in Christmas festivity. India team reciprocated. The Santa caps made way for the blue ones as Team India celebrated with the trophy. Dhoni had a unique makeover ready for him.

It’s the end of a fabulous home season for India. A new challenge begins in the New Year with the tour of South Africa. For now, Merry Christmas!