INDIA: India won the second ODI at Eden Gardens by four wickets after Sri Lanka was all out for 215 inside forty overs. Fifty from debutant Nuwanidu Fernando and cameos from Avishka Fernando and Kusal Mendis gave Sri Lanka a solid start before Indian spinners reduced them to 126/7.
The Sri Lankan lower order helped the team reach a respectable score. India had to work hard for the win by the Sri Lankan bowlers, but KL Rahul’s fifty under pressure and handy knocks from Shreyas Iyer and Hardik Pandya took the hosts to victory.
Sri Lanka inning
After deciding to bat, Sri Lanka was all out for 215 on a decent batter-friendly pitch.
Avishka Fernando smashed three straight fours off Siraj, but Siraj came through for the hosts by providing the early breakthrough. Debutant Nuwanidu Fernando took 11 balls to score his first run.
Eventually, he and Kusal Mendis scored runs rapidly, putting together a half-century partnership for the second wicket. The Indian pace battery seemed ineffective against the duo.
Rohit Sharma introduced spin as late as in the 17th over and both left-arm spinners struck in their respective first overs. Mendis and Dhananjaya de Silva perished playing for spin when there was none.
The spin bowlers triggered a spectacular Sri Lankan batting collapse. Sri Lanka lost five wickets for 24 runs, falling from 102/1 to 126/6, with Kuldeep taking three wickets.
Sri Lanka’s lower order showed some fight, with three 25+partnerships to take Sri Lanka closer to a decent score.
Mohammed Siraj took three wickets, including two in the 40th over, which folded up the Sri Lankan innings. Umran Malik kept up his credentials as a wicket-taker with the dismissals of Hasaranga and Karunaratne.
However, it was Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel, with three and one wickets each, who broke the back of the Sri Lankan batting.
In response, the Indian openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill started aggressively and looked to score runs through boundaries.
However, both of them perish in the space of four deliveries, reducing India to 41 for 2 in the sixth over. Virat Kohli got going with a strong pull shot, but Lahiru Kumara had him caught behind off the very next delivery.
Even though the scoring rate was higher than six runs per over, India had lost its top three batters within the first powerplay. Rajitha caught Shreyas Iyer plumb in front in his second spell, leaving the game delicately poised at 86/4.
Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul joined hands and took a more cautious approach without taking any unnecessary risks. The duo batted judiciously and punished the poor deliveries from the Sri Lankan bowlers.
Hardik Pandya perished after stitching together a crucial 75-run partnership for the fifth wicket with KL Rahul, with India still needing 55 runs.
Axar Patel looked at ease and batted well for his 21 runs. However, he mistimed a big shot and holed out to Karunaratne at long off.
KL Rahul brought up his half-century off 93 balls in the company of Kuldeep Yadav and guided India to a hard-earned victory. India has won the three-match ODI series, and the third and final ODI at Trivandrum will be a dead rubber.
Kuldeep Yadav received the Player of The Match award for his incisive bowling performance.
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