Mahendra Singh Dhoni smashed 16 runs in the last over to help India win the Tri Nation series, edging Sri Lanka by a wicket at the Queen’s Park Oval here Thursday. Needing 15 runs of the last over, Dhoni whacked Shaminda Eranga for a six, four and a six to give India its seventh win over Sri Lanka in nine matches.
Dhoni’s innings was reminiscent of the one he played at the Wankhede where he struck an unbeaten 91 against Sri Lanka in the World Cup 2011 final. Sri Lanka put into bat, from a string position, lost eight wickets for 30 runs and were bowled out for 201 in 48.5 overs.
Most Indian batsmen struggled on a deteriorating pitch but Rohit Sharma (58), Sursh Raina (32) and Dhoni (45 not out) played key innings to take India to 203 for nine in 49.4 overs. India lost Shikhar Dhawan (16) and Virat Kohli (2) early but Rohit Sharma held one end up. At three for 139, India seemed to cantering home to victory but Rohit Sharma’s wicket brought the Lankans back in the game.
Sri Lanka were further buoyed after the fall of the dangerous Raina, who had looked in sparkling form. Rangana Herath put Sri Lanka in the driver’s seat removing Ravindra Jadeja (5) and Ravichandran Ashwin (0) off successive balls to add to his scalps of Sharma and Dinesh Karthik (23).
Mahendra Singh Dhoni fought on as wickets tumbled around him but his hamstring injury that kept him out of the three previous games returned to haunt him. It all seemed lost for India as Mathews gave away just two runs off the penultimate over. But Dhoni hit back in style sending Eranga’s first ball of the last over onto the roof and then with five runs required, the Indian captain smacked a flat six over extra cover to finish things off.
Earlier, a 122-run partnership between Kumar Sangakkara (71) and Lahiru Thirimanne (46) for the third wicket had put Sri Lanka in a strong position after two early wickets had put them on the backfoot.
However, that all changed quickly as Thirimanne tried one too many shots after Ishant Sharma has already been plundered for 15 runs in the 38th over of the match. Sangakkara, after playing a patient innings, too gave it away cheaply, thereby setting a chain reaction for the worse. Captain Angelo Mathews (10), Kusal Perera (2) and Dinesh Chandimal (5) seemed to lose their head, going for ambitious shots on a pitch that had proved to be difficult for shot-making all day.
Ravindra Jadeja, who had figures of four for 23, came in finished the tail in no time as the Lankans collapsed to 201 in 48.5 overs.