Nidahas Trophy 2018: Indian spinners' exemplary performance is SK Turning Point of the match
Aside from showing impressive control, Sundar and Chahal also picked crucial wickets.
Extending their impressive form in the 2018 edition of the Nidahas Trophy, India's spinners enjoyed another productive outing at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. Having tamed Bangladesh in their previous match, the spin duo of Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal showed tremendous control to set up India's clinical triumph over Sri Lanka.
While Sundar picked up two wickets and conceded just 21 runs from his spell of four overs, Chahal overcame a turbulent start to end with figures of 1/34. With Suresh Raina also contributing a tidy over, the 'Men in Blue' rode on their spinners to prevent the hosts from registering a formidable total on a reasonably docile surface.
Even as the spinners combined to give away only 61 runs from nine overs, the seamers parted with as many as 91 runs from their collective ten overs. Shardul Thakur's spell of 4/27 earned him the Player of the Match award in the 19-over encounter. Beyond mere numbers, the slower bowlers played a decisive role in restricting Sri Lanka to a below par total of 152/9.
After an early hiccup or two, India found some calmness in the form of Manish Pandey. The 28-year old joined hands with Dinesh Karthik and carried the 'Men in Blue' to a comprehensive six-wicket victory.
With rain reducing the game to a 19-over contest, Indian skipper Rohit Sharma had no hesitation in bowling first upon winning a handy toss.
Indian spinners derail Sri Lanka's charge
Jaydev Unadkat's opening over began on a woeful note as an overthrow gifted the hosts with a boundary off the very first ball. Kusal Mendis made his intentions quite clear by slamming the next delivery for a magnificent six over the extra cover fence.
After watching the first ball of his spell sail into the stands, Sundar held his nerve and conceded just three runs from his next five deliveries. The manner in which he mixed his lengths and alternated between copious flight as well as flatter trajectory reiterated the 18-year-old's sharp intellect.
Sundar soon had his just reward when he breached the defence of the in-form Kusal Perera. The belligerent left-hander, who had smashed successive fifties in his previous two matches, found himself walking back to the dressing room for just three runs.
Unlike regular captain Virat Kohli, Rohit had no qualms in bringing Chahal into the attack during the Power Play overs itself. However, the leg-spinner bowled either too short or overtly full and hence gave away 27 runs from his first couple of overs.
However, Chahal stormed back in resounding fashion. Even though Kusal Mendis was in rampaging mood, he managed to keep the explosive right-hander in check. The wrist-spinner got his man in his next over. Having hammered a stunning half-century, Kusal finally paid the price for throwing caution to the wind.
Meanwhile, at the other end, Sundar completed his splendid spell by castling the dangerous Jeevan Mendis. The sequence of wickets meant that Sri Lanka's plans of exploding at the death overs were effectively derailed.
Shardul Thakur sent down two adequate overs towards the end and ensured that India ended their bowling part on a high. A couple of late wickets was the cherry on top for the seamer's impressive display.
Chasing 153, India's soft middle-order was put under pressure as both openers fell cheaply. But Suresh Raina wrested back momentum with an attacking cameo. Eventually, Pandey and Karthik put on an unbeaten 68-run partnership to propel the visitors to a comfortable win.