5 things fans could look forward to from the India-Sri Lanka ODI series
Akila Dananjaya's six-fer spell at the Pallekele has suddenly turned around the series.
A lopsided Test series saw India wrap up a 3-0 clean sweep over an out of depth Sri Lankan side and then a dominant 9-wicket victory in the first of the ODIs. The limited overs leg of India's tour of Sri Lanka seemed to be following a script familiar from the past few weeks, of India’s superiority over the host nation.
Three-fourths of the second ODI at Pallekele continued to play to this boring script-sans-drama. India restricted Sri Lanka to a modest total of 236 and, in reply, the opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan erased about half the target by the end of the 16th over. Ironically though, when it eventually ended, India had just scraped through to a win with 16 deliveries to play and three wickets in hand, stubborn resistance from Dhoni and an unlikely fifty from Bhuvneshwar Kumar saving the day.
The man at the centre-stage of the drama that unfolded in between was the newly married, 23 years young Akila Dananjaya, another from Sri Lanka’s treasure of mystery tweakers.
Off-spinner by record, but delivering anything but that on the day, in the small matter of 13 deliveries, the newly-wed spoilt the Indian party by picking up 5 of the Indian top order batsmen and finished with figures of 6/54. His spell, despite ending up on a losing note, has now generated a lot of interest in a series that was expected to be a one-sided affair.
Here’s why the remainder of the series is now keenly followed:
How the Indian batsmen crack the Dananjaya puzzle
Coming into the match at Pallekele, Dananjaya was playing just the fourth match of his ODI career and the Indians had never prepared for him. Expecting the off-spinner, they were caught unaware by the leg-breaks and googlies that got them. At the end of the match, Kohli had admitted as much.
However, now that the Indian batsmen have more clarity, having played him, how they tackle his variety, whether they opt to play him out carefully or unsettle him by counter-attacking, would be the most curiously watched focal point of the matches to come. The guy's got some great talent on his fingers and we could see an exciting contest between bat and ball.