Sachin Tendulkar hit a solid 96 not out to power India to an emphatic seven-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the third One-Day International on Monday.
The opener cracked 13 fours in his 104-ball knock to help India achieve a 240-run target with more than seven overs to spare in the day-night game for a 2-1 lead in the five-match series.
Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja played a crucial role in restricting Sri Lanka to a modest total, finishing with a career-best 4/32 off 10 tight overs. He was named man of the match.
Sri Lanka were on course for a big total when they reached 165/1 in the 23rd over before losing their last nine wickets for 74 in a dramatic collapse, sparked by Jadeja.
India made a brisk start, with stand-in captain Virender Sehwag smashing a 28-ball 44 with nine fours in a 55-run stand for the opening wicket with Tendulkar.
Sehwag led the team in the absence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who was banned for two matches for a slow over-rate during his team’s three-wicket defeat in the previous game in Nagpur.
India capitalised on the start as Tendulkar added 72 for the second wicket with Gautam Gambhir (32) and 73 for the unfinished fourth wicket with Dinesh Karthik (36 not out) to steer his team home.
Jadeja led India’s fightback with a disciplined spell. He bowled well-set opener Upul Tharanga (73) before dismissing Chamara Kapugedera (15), Nuwan Kulasekara (10) and Ajantha Mendis (6).
Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was the other bowler to impress, conceding 29 off nine overs for one wicket.
In-form opener Tillakaratne Dilshan, who smashed brisk centuries in the last two matches, helped Sri Lanka get off to an explosive start with an 18-ball 41 as the visitors raced to 65 off just 6.2 overs.
Dilshan, who survived a run-out chance on 36, was caught by wicket-keeper Karthik off a mistimed pull off seamer Ashish Nehra after hitting 10 fours in his impressive cameo.
There was no respite for India as Tharanga and skipper Kumar Sangakkara (46) put on 100 for the second wicket to raise their team’s hopes of posting a big total.
Tharanga cracked one six and six fours in his 81-ball knock.
But India fought back after the dismissal of Sangakkara, stumped by Karthik off part-time spinner Sehwag. They then never allowed Sri Lanka to build a partnership, striking at regular intervals.
Paceman Ishant Sharma, who conceded 46 runs in his opening three overs, came back strongly to remove Thilina Kandamby for 22 and Suraj Randiv off successive deliveries.