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Sophisticated approach helps Avishka Fernando finish top scorer in series

Fernando had begun aggressively, as he often does, but then toned his batting down in the middle overs

A minor technical change and a more sophisticated approach through the middle overs helped Avishka Fernando finish as highest run-scorer in the series against India. This is what the Player of the third ODI said, after his 76 off 98 balls helped set up Sri Lanka's second ODI win of the year, as they achieved a target of 227 with three wickets and eight overs to spare.
Fernando had begun aggressively, as he often does, hitting 32 off 30 balls during the powerplay, but then toned his batting down in the middle overs, looking for singles and twos in the outfield instead. Although he batted into the 37th over, only one of his boundaries came after the fielding restrictions had been relaxed.
"I can usually get runs in the powerplay so I batted my usual way in those overs, but I needed to figure out how I bat from that point onwards," Fernando said after the match. "As someone who bats at the top, I needed to be able to play those long innings and I wanted to do that in this series. I was able to do what the team needed."
Fernando was part of a crucial 109-run second-wicket stand with Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who for the most part was the aggressor, hitting 12 fours in his 56-ball 65. With Rajapaksa on the attack, and Sri Lanka scoring at well in excess of the required rate, Fernando moved into accumulation mode.
"Bhanuka aiya plays his game his way. At that point we didn't need me to be scoring quickly as well. So I thought I'd give him the strike, because almost every over he would hit a four or a six. I was able to do that and he was batting well. Because we were able to rotate the strike we put on a good partnership."
This was Fernando's second half-century of the series, having also hit 50 in the second ODI. His series tally of 159 runs (at an average of 53), was 31 runs more than the next batter - Shikhar Dhawan - scored.
"I did change a few little things between the England series and this one," Fernando said. "I had an issue with my front leg going to the offside too much. So I corrected that in training, and then because of that I was able to get back in the runs."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf