India’s wicket-keeper batsman KL Rahul’s unbeaten 64 anchored India to a 4-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the 2nd ODI at Eden Gardens on Thursday. With the win, India has got an unassailable lead of 2-0 in the 3-match ODI series. The 3rd ODI will take place in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday.
Winning the toss, Sri Lanka decided to bat first and scored 215 runs out of 39.4 overs in a 10-wicket loss. In return, India chased back an easy target in 43.2 overs in a 6-wicket loss.
Sri Lanka threw out an excellent start with the bat as opener Nuwanidu Fernando scored a half-century. Kusal Mendis also added 34 runs. But Kuldeep Yadav left his impact with the ball and forced a collapse on the Lankan side. Sri Lanka never recovered after that and got bundled out in a small total. Yadav once again displayed his skills with the ball and grabbed 3 wickets in his first 5 overs that triggered the Lankan collapse.
Even though Mendis and Fernando frustrated Indian bowlers with a counter-attack, Yadav ran through the Sri Lankan middle-order. He has led the skipper Dasun Shanaka out of the crease with 2 runs score. But a late attack of Dunith Wellalage (32) and Wanindu Hasaranga (21) took the team posts a 200-run mark.
The experienced Mohammed Siraj has also picked up 3 wickets for the Indian side in the final overs. Young pacer Umran Malik also got 2 wickets from his seven overs. The visitors wasted almost 62 balls on an excellent batting surface, and Malik and Siraj demolished Sri Lanka inside 40 overs.
In return, India reached their destination safely even though they took a longer route. Unlike the first ODI, India lost the openers very faster. Rohit Sharma got 17 runs and Shubman Gill got 21 runs and both went out before completing 6 overs. Virat Kohli followed the same. Shreyas Iyer tried to stay long but went out in 14.2 overs, leaving India in 86 runs stand.
Now the whole hope was on the No.5 batsman KL Rahul. Rahul has been criticized for a long period of time because of his inconsistency in gaming. Yet his courage and a crucial 75-run partnership with Hardik Pandya (36) helped team India win the match.
With a top-order collapse, Rahul took the responsibility which has been expected from him and he batted till the very end to take India home in the 44th over. Even though the 216-run target initially looked an easier one, it didn’t turn out as planned.
Needing 130 runs from 214 balls, Rahul and Pandya were the only batters left and both made it happen. Rahul’s unbeaten 64 of 103 balls took India home with 40 balls to spare.
“I won’t say it was a flat wicket, or it was doing a lot that it was impossible to bat. When Sri Lanka started, I thought I thought it was a 280-300 wicket”, Rahul reacted after the match.
“The good thing about batting at No. 5 is you don’t have to rush. You can take a shower, put your feet up and watch the game. But I always think what team needs of me. I f you can read the situation when you go in, it helps you and team. Batting at No.5 has helped me understand my game better”, Rahul added.
Pandya was also different in the match as he took time and gave Rahul perfect support. He knew that Rahul needed a good stand-in to chase the target. After Pandya has gone, Rahul formed yet another crucial partnership with Axar Patel who has given runs to the side. With 40 balls to spare, India sealed the series, leading India to reach on 4th of the ICC ODI rankings.