© Getty Images
India registered a comfortable six-wicket victory © IANS

India’s recorded yet another clinical show in the third One-Day International (ODI) of their five-match series against Sri Lanka. They won the game by six wickets at Hyderabad. Indians were focused and determined, as they did not allow Sri Lanka a way back in the game, writes Devarchit Varma.

Before this series, Sri Lanka was one of the most successful teams in the year 2014. They had not only won almost everything that came their way, but the achievements like the Test series win in England indicated that the young talent, one that is gradually taking over the charge of Sri Lankan cricket, will not let the exit of the greats hamper their performances. But going by the way the three One-Day Internationals (ODIs) against India have panned out, one wonders what has gone wrong!

Sri Lanka have most of their top order batsmen in the side. The big names missing in action are bowlers are the bowlers, such as Lasith Malinga and Rangana Herath However, that is not the reason for their defeat. The batsmen have simply not performed well. After their loss in the final of the ICC World Cup 2011, the then Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara reckoned that to beat India in India, a bowling side needs to get at least the top seven batsmen back in the pavilion soon and only then do they stand a chance to win. The situation, as far as the Sri Lankans are concerned, remains the same as they find it an uphill task to remove the Indian top-order, even though it is not as strong as it was in 2011. Leave aside Sri Lankans bowling out the Indians in this series, they have not even threatened them.

But bowlers are not to be entirely blamed. Knowing Indians’ ability to consistently score heavily at home, they need to put targets that are challenging enough. India can chase targets up to 300 easily at home, and in fact the series in 2013 against Australia proved that scores around 350 may not be enough. So do Sri Lankans stand a chance if their batsmen continue to flop? The tourists yet again lost the early wicket of Kusal Perera, followed by the big wicket of Kumar Sangakkara, which put them in tremendous pressure in the third over. Tillakaratne Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene provided some resistance, but the former’s dismissal off a part-time bowler sparked the collapse.

Angelo Mathews put an end to experimentation by coming in at No. 5, but his reckless stroke in the batting powerplay pegged Sri Lanka back so much that they could not even go past 250. Jayawardene slammed his 17th ODI ton, but unfortunately, it is his second century which came in a losing cause. The first had come in the World Cup final in 2011, wherein he had helped the Sri Lankans to a score of 275, which at the end wasn’t enough for his side.

Like any other great batsman, Jayawardene controlled his instincts of shot making, which had resulted in his early dismissals in both the previous matches. As the wickets continued to fall around him, he kept on going and amassing as many runs as he could for his side. His disappointment with himself was evident when he got stumped, but Jayawardene couldn’t be blamed as the need of the hour was to score as many runs as possible.

India started off well and never looked perturbed with the modest target. The dismissal of Ambati Rayudu was indeed a needless one, and Shikhar Dhawan may lament on missing out on a century. But the day perhaps belonged to Virat Kohli, as the team registered yet another series win under his leadership.

And there were sweet memories as well. As the 26-year-old stand-in Indian captain completed his 32nd half-century in ODIs, his partner, Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma was seen applauding the cricketer’s effort from the pavilion in the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Uppal, Hyderabad. Kohli is believed to have blown a kiss as well, but let’s not get into that.

(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)