Having taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in the 3-match series, India were aiming to extend their dominance and end the year on a positive note when the final T20I against Sri Lanka began at the iconic Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. The 'Men in Blue' did exactly that by notching a five-wicket victory to cruise to a clinical 3-0 series triumph.
Upon winning a handy toss, skipper Rohit Sharma opted to bowl first. Considering the nature of the venue as well as prevalence of dew later in the night, Sri Lanka needed a strong total to challenge India's batting lineup.
However, they got off to a woeful start as Jaydev Unadkat and debutant Washington Sundar dented their top-order in the game-shaping Power Play overs. Sri Lanka lost three crucial wickets inside the first four overs to hand the momentum to India early in the match.
From a precarious position of 18/3, the visitors could never really recover. They limped to a below-par total of 135 for the loss of seven wickets. Despite enduring a few jitters, India held their nerve to complete a comprehensive victory. Here's how the events in the third T20I transpired.
Unadkat and Sundar create early inroads
Coming into the playing eleven at the expense of Yuzvendra Chahal, Washington Sundar created history by becoming the youngest player to debut for India in the shortest format of the game. The 18-year old was tasked with taking the new-ball alongside Unadkat.
The young off-spinner showed no signs of nerves as he delivered a tidy first over to set the ball rolling in Mumbai. At the other end, Unadkat maintained the pressure by providing no room for Niroshan Dickwella to free his arms. The left-hander failed to come to terms with the extra bounce on offer and heaved a good-length delivery straight to Mohammed Siraj at mid-on.
Sundar got his maiden T20I scalp in the last delivery of his second over. Upon getting one to hold its line, he coerced Kusal Perera into playing across the line. But the leading edge went only as far the bowler who completed a comfortable return catch.
Unadkat soon aggravated the tourists' woes by accounting for the experienced Upul Tharanga. With the left-armer unfurling a canny slower delivery, the southpaw did not pick the change of pace and produced a mistimed shot. Hardik Pandya covered good ground from deep square leg to pouch the opportunity. At the end of the fourth over, Sri Lanka were left reeling at 19/3.
Sri Lanka limp to underwhelming total
Having been dented early, the visitors struggled to reverse their perilous situation. They kept losing wickets at regular intervals and hence could not quite stitch together dynamic partnerships.
Asela Gunaratne scrapped hard by contributing a 37-ball 36. Towards the end of the innings, all-rounder Dasun Shanaka hammered a couple of lofty sixes and added useful runs to the team total. Eventually, Sri Lanka finished their innings with an underwhelming score.
Karthik and Dhoni seal jittery chase
Chasing 136 for victory, the Indian openers were not at their best and often grappled for timing. Sensing the need to stifle the batsmen to pose any threat whatsoever, the Sri Lankan bowlers operated with discipline for the vast majority of the game.
When captain Rohit departed for a 20-ball 27, India regrouped in the form of a composed partnership between Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey. The duo took the hosts to within sight of the finish line before succumbing to contrasting dismissals.
Taking over the mantle from the two younger batsmen, the seasoned duo of Dinesh Karthik and MS Dhoni put on an enterprising partnership of 31 runs from just 19 deliveries to propel India to the target in the final over of the match. With the five-wicket triumph, they managed to inflict a 3-0 series whitewash on the lacklustre Sri Lankan side.