Following this win, the hosts completed a comprehensive series whitewash against the Islanders, as they had also won the two matches in Cuttack and Indore comprehensively. Following this latest win, the Indian players were pictured in festive mood on Christmas eve.
And leading the way was none other than former skipper Dhoni, who donned a 'Santa hat' to wish the fans. Team India's Instagram post read: "Merry Christmas 🎄 to everyone from #TeamIndia"
Hardik Pandya wasn't going to be left behind as he also posted a selfie with Dhoni and Co and his post read: "Merry Christmas everyone ❤️🎄"
Merry Christmas everyone ❤️🎄 pic.twitter.com/z9G3J5nCXJ— hardik pandya (@hardikpandya7) December 24, 2017
Chasing 136, the Indians started off poorly with KL Rahul walking back to the dugout in the 4th over with Dushmantha Chameera catching Rahul (4) on the pads. The Indian opener did go for a review, but the decision stayed with the on-field umpire and that was reason to celebrate for the Lankans. Stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma (27) too perished trying to up the ante as the Indian batting suddenly looked out of answers on a pitch helping the bowlers under lights.
While Rahul and Rohit seemed like they were frustrated and looked to hit out of the situation, Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey looked like they were happy to stand ground and wait for the bad deliveries. The small target also helped India’s cause as there was no need for the duo to take any undue pressure. They were happy to pick the singles and wait for the bad balls to send to the cleaners.
But the 42-run partnership between the two ended against the run of play as a straight drive from Pandey caught Dananjaya’s finger-tip and hit the stump at the non-striker’s end to catch Iyer (30) short of his crease. With 55 needed off 40 balls, Hardik Pandya came in to join Pandey.
Even though Hardik looked like he was on a mission, a false shot off Shanaka saw him walk back to the dugout for just 4. With the game still very much in the balance, in walked Dinesh Karthik. The decision seemed a bit strange considering that MS Dhoni was still in the dressing room, but looked like it was aimed to give the batsman some opportunity in the middle.
But Pandey looked in terrific form as he kept hitting the timely boundaries to keep away the pressure off Karthik. Yet, with 4 overs left, Chameera got the better of Manish Pandey (32) to bring Dhoni into the wicket as 28 runs were required off 23 balls.
From there, it was all about Dhoni and Karthik holding fort and taking the hosts home. A six off the last ball of the 19th over from Karthik meant India needed just 3 off the last over. While Karthik finished on 18, Dhoni was unbeaten on 16.
First Published: December 25, 2017, 9:34 AM IST