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Tri-Nation Series: Shardul Thakur’s magic powers India to victory over Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka went into the fourth match of the Nidahas Trophy one batsman short, while India strengthened their line-up and this made the difference.

Team India pacer Shardul Thakur celebrates the wicket of Sri Lanka's Danushka Gunathilaka in Colombo yesterday. Pic/PTI
Team India pacer Shardul Thakur celebrates the wicket of Sri Lanka’s Danushka Gunathilaka in Colombo yesterday. Pic/PTI

Sri Lanka went into the fourth match of the Nidahas Trophy one batsman short, while India strengthened their line-up and this made the difference. Despite a strong start, Sri Lanka went from 96-2 to 152-9 in 19 overs after an evening drizzle had curtailed the match.

While the target should have been a walk in the park for the Indians, they wobbled a touch, but the lack of scoreboard pressure meant that result was never in doubt, only the margin (six wickets).

Batting first, the home side looked in great health, Kusal Mendis leading the charge. Kusal Mendis made 55 off only 38 balls, with three fours and as many sixes, but the lack of meaningful partnerships — the only good one was 62 for the third wicket — after Upul Tharanga was dismissed, left the Sri Lankan team well short of a par score.

Washington Sundar conceded only 21 in four overs, and picked up two wickets. Shardul Thakur cleaned up at the back end, finishing with 4-27. When the chase began Rohit appeared in the mood, hitting the second ball he faced, a short one from Lakmal, deep into the stands. The next ball went for four, but soon after Akila Dananjaya cleaned up, as Rohit (10) found Kusal Mendis at midwicket. Shikhar Dhawan had his first failure of 2018 in T20Is, lobbing a catch to mid-on off Dananjaya.

KL Rahul, coming into the eleven in place of Rishab Pant, steadied the ship with Suresh Raina (27) and though neither of them could go on, India still got across the line with six wickets and nine balls to spare. Manish Pandey top-scored with a polished 42 and Dinesh Karthik helped himself to an unbeaten 39.

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