Unadkat, Pandey shine as India complete 3-0 sweep
India 139 for 5 (Pandey 32, Chameera 2-22, Shanaka 2-27) beat Sri Lanka 135 for 7 (Gunaratne 36, Unadkat 2-15, Pandya 2-25) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
For the first time in the series, Sri Lanka were genuinely in the contest. The bounce at the Wankhede Stadium gave their seamers some zip that they couldn't quite manage to generate in Cuttack and Indore. In defence of 136, they dismissed the rampaging pair of KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma, who walloped joint-fastest T20 hundred two nights ago, inside seven overs. India's asking rate climbed to close to 8.5 per over with eight overs left, a genuine test for a middle order that hasn't had too much batting time of late.
This was Sri Lanka's best opportunity to close out the game. But India had MS Dhoni in the middle at the end along with Dinesh Karthik. Nuwan Pradeep only conceded six runs off the first five balls of the penultimate over, leaving India nine to get off the last seven balls. At that point it was Pradeep who cracked under the pressure; he sent down a friendly full-toss that Karthik swatted into the stands beyond deep midwicket. That, right there, was the knockout punch with one full over to play. A heady climax eventually turned cold right at the end, but not before India had been given quite a scare.
Lack of scoreboard pressure early in the chase gave India some leeway as Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey overcame early struggles against the moving ball to add 42 in 6.2 overs to put India back on track. But the match swung again when Iyer was run-out at the non-striker's end, Akila Dananjaya's fingertips intercepting a flat-batted strike from Pandey and deflecting it into the stumps.
The wicket may have not come about had Thisara Perera not thrown himself to his left to stop a single at cover off the previous delivery. Clearly, Sri Lanka were in the game, waiting to grab at any opportunity. When they sent Iyer back, India needed 55 off 40. This was precisely the moment when Pandey, largely subdued until then, decided to cut loose, hitting three fours off the next five balls he faced. India were back in it.
But Sri Lanka weren't giving up. Hardik Pandya feathered an attempted ramp to the wicketkeeper, leaving India four down with 37 to get off the last five overs. When Pandey was bowled by one that jagged back in to beat his inside edge - the dismissal coming about largely because of his style of playing beside the line - it came down to 28 off 23.
Up against Chameera with no slip in place, Dhoni managed to find a thick edge that beat the diving wicketkeeper and ran away for four. In the same over, there was more drama when Sri Lanka reviewed a not-out lbw decision, the tense crowd roaring in unison as the giant screen showed the ball missing the stumps. Dhoni would eventually hit the winning runs.
The architects who masterminded Sri Lanka's downfall after they were sent in to bat were Washington Sundar and Jaydev Unadkat - two bowlers who had been at the forefront of Rising Pune Supergiant's magnificent run to the IPL final earlier this year.
Washington, India's youngest T20I debutant, bowled three overs of no-frills offspin upfront, often varying his pace between fast and faster, his length between good and full, and strangulated the largely left-handed top order. He finished with figures of 4-0-22-1. Unadkat, IPL 2017's second-highest wicket-taker who also finished the tournament with an economy rate of 7.02, cramped the left-handers early on and was rewarded for his accuracy. Washington and Unadkat prised out Sri Lanka's top three inside four overs to set off a procession.
It needed Asela Gunaratne's industrious 37-ball 36 and Dasun Shanaka's 29 off 24 to haul Sri Lanka to 135 from a precarious 85 for 6.
India suffered a few early jitters in their chase. KL Rahul was the first to fall, given out lbw while trying to heave Dushmantha Chameera's indipper across the line. Rohit too was shaky to begin with, and was saved by the bounce in the first over when he played down the wrong line of a Dananjaya googly that sneaked between bat and pad. Two balls later, he was deceived in flight and nearly chipped a return catch.
Rohit broke the stranglehold by disturbing Dananjaya's length - slog-sweeping him to midwicket and then stepping out to hit him straight down the ground for six. But unlike in the previous two games, Sri Lanka managed to sustain the pressure with Shanaka nibbling away in the off-stump channel and getting the ball to jag both ways.
A miscued pull to a ball that skidded on faster than Rohit expected resulted in a simple catch to deep square leg. This left the middle order in the spotlight, and they were able to steer India to their target, with some help from Sri Lanka's nerves and the dew, and bring a memorable home season to a winning end.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo