Manish Pandey top-scored with 32 as India beat Sri Lanka by five wickets in the third Twenty20 international to complete a 3-0 whitewash in Mumbai on Sunday. Chasing 136 for victory, the Men in Blue lost wickets at crucial junctures before Dinesh Karthik (18 not out) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (16 not out) took them home with four balls to spare. The win ensured that India end the year on a high before embarking on their high-profile tour of South Africa that starts with the first Test on January 5 in Cape Town.
India lost in-form openers — captain Rohit Sharma (27) and KL Rahul (4) — early, which affected their run-rate badly as Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey found the going tough against a fired-up Lankan attack.
No boundary was scored for more than six overs at one stage during India’s chase with scoreboard moving at snail’s pace with runs mostly coming in singles.
Iyer broke the shackles with a long-off six off Dasun Shanka but was soon run out in an unfortunate manner after scoring 30 off 32 balls.
Hardik Pandya (4) came ahead of MS Dhoni this time but did not last long and was caught behind off Shanka, whom Pandey had smashed for two consecutive fours in the same over.
Paceman Dushmanta Chameera cleaned up Pandey (32 off 29 balls) with a faster but straight delivery, bringing Dhoni at the crease with India requiring 28 from 23 balls.
Boundaries were still hard to come but Dinesh Karthik (18 not out) tilted the match in India’s favour by hitting a massive six off Nuwan Pradeep’s full toss in the last ball of the 19th over.
Earlier, supremely confident Indian bowlers came out firing with Jaydev Unadkat adding to his growing reputation.
Unadkat, who generated a lot of pace in his first spell, was the most outstanding Indian bowler with figures of impressive 4-0-15-2.
In a hurry to collect runs, the visitors ended up playing poor lofted shots on good balls, resulting in tame dismissals and put on board a modest 135 for seven.
Asela Gunaratne was the only batsman, who applied himself well and played a slow but crucial 36-run knock that took Sri Lanka past the 100-run mark.
Debutant Washington Sundar (1/22) and Unadkat removed the top three batsmen in space of 11 balls to rattle the visitors.
The Saurashtra paceman added wicket of Upul Tharanga (11) to his tally as the Lankan opener was guilty of playing a reckless shot considering the situation.
The 18-year-old Sundar maintained a tight line and length, and caught dangerous Kusal Perera (4) off his own bowling after Unadkat got rid of Niroshan Dickwella (1).
Sundar erred slightly in his length, allowing Gunaratne to pull the ball away towards mid-wicket for a much-needed boundary.
In a three-over spell, Sundar conceded 18 runs while Unadkat gave away only seven runs in his impressive two-over spell as Sri Lanka managed 37 runs in Powerplay.
Sadeera Samarawickrama (21) also did not last long and was dismissed by Hardik Pandya, who had struck him on the helmet before having him caught by Dinesh Karthik.
Gunaratne, though, kept calm and played sensibly getting some runs patiently even as Danushka Gunathilaka (3) became a victim of chinaman Kuldeep Yadav (1/26).
He struck one straight to Pandya in deep mid-wicket, leaving Sri Lanka struggling at 72 for five in the 12th over.
Captain Thisara Perera (11) in desperation, threw his bat at each and everything but after finding two boundaries off Mohammed Siraj, handed a simple catch to Rohit Sharma.
The first six of the innings was hit by Dasun Shanaka off Pandya in the last ball of the 16th over and also the last by him in the penultimate ball of the innings.
Shanaka remained unbeaten on 29.