Colombo, July 29: Wanindu Hasaranga stole the show as Sri Lanka registered a series-clinching 7-wicket win over India in the third and final T20I here at R Premadasa Stadium on Thursday (July 29).
Chasing a meagre target of 82 in 120 deliveries, Sri Lankans hardly faced any troubles as they reached home quite easily in 14.3 overs.
Dhananjaya de Silva (23*) and Hasaranga (14*) remained unbeaten at the crease as the hosts lost three wickets in the process. All three wickets Avishka Fernando (12), Minod Bhanuka (18) and Sadeera Samarawickrama (6) were picked up by young India spinner Rahul Chahar.
Barring Chahar's bowling (4-0-15-3) and his stunning return catch to dismiss Fernando, there wasn't any positive from the match for the Indians as they were outplayed by the hosts in all three departments of the game.
With their spirits high after an emphatic win last night, Sri Lankans looked a completely different side from the start and never let the tourists make a comeback on a surface that had a lot on offer for the spinners.
Birthday boy Hasaranga once again returned with a magical performance that triggered India's batting collapse in the decider. The right-arm spinner returned with stunning figures of nine for four from his quota of four overs as a dominant Sri Lankan side restricted a young Indian side to a meagre 81 for 8 in the stipulated 20 overs.
A depleted Indian batting line-up once again surrendered in front of a quality spin attack and failed to post a decent total on the board.
Kuldeep Yadav (23*) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (16) were the highest run-scorers of the Indian innings after their skipper Shikhar Dhawan won the toss and elected bat first in the deciding third T20I.
Not a single recognised Indian batsman applied himself well against a disciplined show from the Sri Lankan bowlers. India fielded an inexperienced side in the last two games after the key members of their second-string side were put in isolation as all-rounder Krunal Pandya tested positive for Covid-19.
Nine players from the Indian squad were removed for the remainder of the two T20Is and the hosts made full use of the opportunity to subject the inexperienced Indian side to back-to-back humiliating defeats and end their draught of a series win over India.
After losing the game, India captain Shikhar Dhawan conceded that the Sri Lankans played better cricket than his team and congratulated the hosts for outplaying them in all departments to secure a series win.
"It was a difficult situation for us. As a team, we decided to stay and play these games. Really proud of the boys as well. They showed great character in the last two games. Their attitude was tremendous. We wanted to win as well, in every game you learn. It was an off-day for our batting unit. We lost too many wickets, SL bowled well. When you lose early wickets, you get a lot of pressure, glad that we got to the 80s, that's all we managed today," Dhawan said at the post-match presentation.
Sri Lanka's acting captain Dasun Shanaka was elated with his team's performance and the character his team showed in the T20I series.
Shanaka began by thanking the BCCI and the Indian cricketers and team management for agreeing to play the series despite being hit by the COVID-19 crisis.
"I should thank BCCI, under these circumstances they agreed to play. Special thanks to Rahul Dravid and Shikhar Dhawan."
Talking about his team's performance, the all-rounder said, "This is the best performance we have had in the last few years. I had the (bowling) options with me and used them in the middle. Not only myself, but all the boys are also working really hard. In the last three months starting from the Bangladesh series, they were keen to win and they want to be world-class.
"The way Chameera started, the way Wanindu performed throughout, how Akila performed, how calm DDS was, and I should mention (Charith) Karunaratne... he is a gem to Sri Lankan cricket. All the boys did the right job. They handled the situation well and used their brains very well. I am lucky to lead this team. When a low score is set, it's good if you get a more positive start. But they are young and learning, they'll be better in the future."