| Manoj Tiwary and Gautam Gambhir during their partnership, in Pallekele, on Saturday |
Pallekele: Irfan Pathan claimed five wickets and contributed valuable 29 runs as India notched up a 20-run win over Sri Lanka to complete a 4-1 series drubbing here Saturday.
India posted a challenging 294 for seven after electing to bat and bowled out the hosts for 274 in 45.4 overs at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.
India had lost the second ODI in Hambantota by nine wickets but were dominant in all the other matches.
Opener Gautam Gambhir (88), Manoj Tiwary (65) and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (58) scored half-centuries while Rohit Sharma (4) failed yet again.
Dhoni along with Pathan (29 off 28) plundered 77 runs in just 9.5 overs before falling to Lasith Malinga in the penultimate over of the innings.
Later, the pace trio of Pathan (5/60), Ashok Dinda (2/55) and Zaheer Khan (1/53) ripped apart the Sri Lankan top-order, tilting the scales in India’s favour. India have now claimed the second spot in the ODI rankings behind Australia after starting the series in the fourth position. Both India and Australia now have 119 rating points, followed by South Africa (118).
Lahiru Thirimanne, who came in to bat at No.3 after the fall of opener Tillekaratne Dilshan (0), was the top scorer for the hosts with his fighting 81.
Run-rate was never a problem with Sri Lanka but they struggled to keep wickets in hand as half of the batting line- up was resting in the pavilion within 16 overs.
Thirimanne and Jeevan Mendis (72) did stage a fightback with a gritty 102-run partnership for the sixth wicket in 20.4 overs.
Thirimanne’s excellent innings met with a tragic end when he was run out in the 36th over. Mendis kept fighting and brought his team closer to the target but once Pathan dismissed him and Thisara Perera (18) in the 43rd over, an Indian win looked very much on the cards.
It was Pathan who dealt the first two blows by removing Dilshan and Upul Tharanga (31). Before being caught by Ajinkya Rahane, Tharanga batted superbly in the company of Thirimanne as the duo put on 45 runs for the second wicket.
In a span of 30 balls, Sri Lanka lost Dinesh Chandimal (8), skipper Angelo Mathews (13) and Chamara Kapugedara (9) to be reeling at 102 for five.
Earlier, Dhoni smashed a 38-ball 58 after Gambhir and Tiwary put India on course with a 110-run partnership for the fourth wicket.
Dhoni was ruthless against the Lankan bowlers, hitting them all over the park, while bringing up his 50 off just 34 balls with a huge six over mid wicket off Thisara Perara. With his three wickets, Malinga was the pick of the bowlers for the hosts, who had rested captain Mahela Jayawardene and Rangana Herath.
Indian openers in the absence of rested Virender Sehwag, started off sedately with the first boundary of the innings coming in the fourth over — Rahane driving Parera through the covers.