India v Sri Lanka, 3rd T20I, Visakhapatnam February 14, 2016

Ashwin's 4 for 8 gives India series

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India 84 for 1 (Dhawan 46*) beat Sri Lanka 82 (Ashwin 4-8, Raina 2-6) by 9 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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Both teams need to learn to assess conditions better

In his first three overs, bowled at the start of the match, R Ashwin bowled India to their first bilateral T20I series win at home. India bowled Sri Lanka out for their lowest total, 82, to retain their No. 1 ranking, which was on the line in the series decider. Ashwin's 4 for 8 was the best figures for an Indian in T20Is, beating his own 4 for 11.

Ashwin's immediate impact was crucial because the pitch turned square, and India might have unwittingly given Sri Lanka the second use of such a track. You couldn't have faulted MS Dhoni, though: the pitch looked white, had zero moisture, and no big cracks. Given the dew expected later in the day, it seemed a prudent decision to ask Sri Lanka to bat because the pitch didn't look like it would help spin anyway.

Just like in Pune where India were left thinking they would have been in the game had they scored 130 or so as opposed to the 101 all out, Sri Lanka could have given India a fight with a half-decent total because the ball turned square even for Ravindra Jadeja and Suresh Raina. Ashwin left them in no position to get a fighting total, though.

Ashwin, given the new ball, was happy to give it a rip and some flight, mixing in the seam-up delivery that swings away from the right-hand batsmen. Sri Lanka, though, came out with a plan to try to hit Ashwin out of the attack. Tillakaratne Dilshan faced the second ball of the match, got a single, and immediately signaled to his partner, Niroshan Dickwella that the ball was turning already. It didn't have any impact on Dickwella, who left his crease early and walked past an offbreak that Ashwin bowled deliberately short.

In the same over, Dilshan was done in by a sharp offbreak from round the wicket, turning enough to beat the inside edge and hit his pad inside the line, but not turning too much to be given out lbw. If Dickwella played a headless shot, Dilshan's was purely a bowler's wicket: beaten on the forward defensive by the dip and the turn. Captain Dinesh Chandimal looked to counterattack, hit two fours off Ashish Nehra, but skied Ashwin in his second over. In his third over, Ashwin enjoyed some luck as debutant Asela Gunaratne was given out caught at leg slip off his pad. Ashwin had now reduced Sri Lanka to 20 for 4 in the fifth over. In a format not as versatile as the traditional ones, the damage had already been done.

The problem with the rest of Sri Lanka innings was twofold: the ball was turning, and the batsmen kept trying the big hits as opposed to looking for a partnership. This was quite similar to what happened with India even as the ball seamed in Pune. Milinda Siriwardana faced only two balls even though he spent three overs in the middle. The first one he pulled Jasprit Bumrah for four, but when he tried the pull second ball he chose a Nehra delivery that was not short enough and also skidded through to bowl him.

Only a high full toss from Yuvraj that went for six, and the free hit that was given repeat treatment by Dasun Shanaka gave Sri Lanka's innings some momentum. Ashwin came awfully close to registering the first international five-for for India, but Jadeja and Raina kept the pressure up and the wickets kept falling. Jadeja's brilliance showed in the field too, with a delicate back-hand flick to run Seekkuge Prasanna out and catch Thisara Perera in the deep.

Under hardly any pressure, India walked away to their target with 37 balls remaining even though the turning pitch made stroke-play difficult. Shikhar Dhawan again displayed his improved leg-side play in his run-a-ball 46 whereas question marks over Ajinkya Rahane's hitting ability on slower surfaces remained as he mis-hit a few attempted big hits in his unbeaten 22 off 24.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • CricketZoysa on February 20, 2016, 13:07 GMT

    At the last T20 WC, Sri Lanka countered Ashwin & co by having 4 Left Handers in the top 6 and 3 of them did not play in this match. So we need to follow that formula against India but obviously without Sanga & Kuasa Perera......but we need Lahiru back in the top 6 against spin.

  •   Give Get on February 17, 2016, 15:34 GMT

    Ashwin spins the Sri Lankans

  • THEBEAST7 on February 16, 2016, 11:18 GMT

    Chandimal is not a T20 player and I dont know who is the mastermind behind making him the Captain of the T20 team!!!!

  • shervinmike on February 16, 2016, 8:43 GMT

    we have a problem in the opening position also with Dilshan. I am big fan of him but his t20 ability has gone i guess but we cant underestimate him since he was the man of the series on recent WI t20's. He can play at number 3 or 4 since we need him. just for a change because if he fails it gives lot of pressure to the middle order. if we look at the patterns if dilshan fails we have lost most of the games. so better he play number 4. i believe he will do good. we can try two very aggressive player at the top. someone like kithurwan & dilshan munaweera or someone good since no kusal,

    From kapu/chandimal/thrimanne one can come at 3. then we have dilshan, mathews, siriwardana . which is very strong line up. we will have fire power on top & end so good balance.

  • THEBEAST7 on February 16, 2016, 8:18 GMT

    No amount of excuses can make you feel good when your team loose like this. Pathetic performance from our team. I really don't understand presetting with these so called allrounders who can't bat or bowl. Thisara, Seekuge, should be dropped!!! Dilly too should leave now. But the guys who get the chance play even worse!!! Where is Ajantha Mendis? The guy who took the highest number of wickets at the provincial T20 tournament?

  • DEEZNUTS_HUH_GOTEEM on February 16, 2016, 4:43 GMT

    So SL fans talks about two bad decisions they had. What sort of impact would've made by those tow batsmen if they survived another few overs? Score another 100 runs to the scorecard? I highly doubt it. Asela Gunarathne, who faced 7 balls against Ashwin out of his innings of 13 balls, was miserable against Ashwin's variations. I was anticipating his wicket sooner or later, watching the match in front of the TV wondering about how SL next gen batsmen became vulnerable to spin. Umpires are part of cricket, so as their decisions. people would howl about decisions, DRS if they became match turning ones, but those decisions from the last match were definitely NOT. In fact here's a good example of match changing decision happened in SL, in a SL vs SA test match in 2006. The culprit was a local umpire. http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/249194.html see Jacques Rudolph dismissal in the second innings.

  • VKohlitheGreat on February 16, 2016, 4:43 GMT

    That population card had to come as it is SL's last saving grace. Now lets compare, AUS which has almost equal population as SL has 5 WC, 2 CT compared to SL's tally of 2 (I don't believe in joint winners crap, so no CT). WI too has less population, infact it's not even a country but a group of small islands but still has 2 WC, 1 T20 and 1 CT. Finally, the team SL played recently; NZ has only about 5 million population but look how they won. Any other logic you wanna present?

  • SriLankanYoungBlood on February 16, 2016, 4:08 GMT

    This match might more competitive if umpires spoils with 2 not outs.(Gunarathne and Sachie).Dilshan out is correct. If we definitely lost World T20 if Dilshan Played as a Opener.he is walking wicket to spinners may be seamers also. Either he should play 4,5 or get out from T20. Also Sekku should drop from our squad he is neither bowler or batsmen. Cric Info Please Pulbish

  • NPBK on February 15, 2016, 20:54 GMT

    Sri Lanka should go to the Asia cup & WT20 with more young players, picking Dilshan or Kapugedara will not help SL in the future. Kapu has very less ability as a batsman and he showed it mainly during 2011 WC final but still some are backing him, some people are thinking that SL has not got enough talented players or SLC club tournament are not a measurement for a players, but it is not true, the true is that our selectors not picking correct players and selections are based on influenced, and even SL media only talking about some selected players and some other players performances are not talking about, All these because of money which became major part of our cricket after 1996 WC Glory, However SL will come back strong as talent cannot keep hiding forever,

  • Herath-US on February 15, 2016, 20:08 GMT

    NZ played with 15 players against SL, otherwise SL would have destroyed NZ..

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