Dhoni and Bhuvi bring India a miracle win after Dananjaya creates havoc


By Kersi Meher-Homji

What a match, what a miracle victory for India! I went to sleep at 2am certain that India will lose the second one-day international (ODI) at Kandy.

I somehow felt happy for Sri Lanka. They were smashed to smithereens by India in three Tests and the first ODI. Here was their chance to redeem themselves and square the series one-all with three more ODIs to go.

Here’s how the second ODI roller-coasted. In reply to Sri Lanka’s 8-236 (left-handed Milinda Siriwardana top-scoring with 58, fast-medium bowler Jasprit Bumrah taking 4-43) India was cruising at 109 for no wicket (Rohit Sharma 54 and Shikhar Dhawan 49) at seven runs an over.

Another facile win for India, prophesised the commentators. But India lost seven wickets for 22 runs.   The hero for Sri Lanka was their spinner Akila Dananjaya who took six wickets in a magnificent spell of off-spin, leg-spin, googly, you name it! His victims included skipper and master batsman Virat Kohli who had no idea how he was clean bowled.

Full credit to the 23 year-old Dananjaya who had got married only a day before! He could not stop celebrating on the pitch. For capturing 6-54 he was the worthy Man of the Match.

Due to rain interruption, India’s win target was 231 in 47 overs. It looked childishly easy when they were 0-109 but hellishly difficult when they had collapsed to 7- 131. All their top order batsmen were back in pavilion except the veteran MS Dhoni.

Still 100 runs were needed for an unlikely win with only tail-enders to support Dhoni and the Lankans were on top for once. But then cricket is a funny game.

Dhoni received support from tail-ender Bhuvneshwar Kumar who is in the team as a fast bowler. He not only supported Dhoni. He dominated the partnership, scoring an unbeaten 58 with four fours and a six. Dhoni played a supporting role, hitting only one four in his patient 45 not out.

Incredibly India won by three wickets with 16 balls in hand to lead 2-0 in the five match series. Sensational ending to a topsy-turvy match. Incredible India!

And remember India was without Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Sami…

A relieved Kohli summed up at the post match presentation: “Quite an exciting game of cricket, fans and players entertained. Good to come through eventually. Two 100-run partnerships in a chase of 231 with seven wickets, that’s quite bizarre. When you’re 110 for 1, in a chase of 231, you want to give everyone a chance to bat. We don’t have any regrets. If I had gone at No. 3, I would have still missed that ball because he [Akila Dananjaya] was bowling that well. We thought he was the off-spinner with a good leg break, but he got four wickets off googlies. We’ll be more careful next time. Credit to him for pitching the ball in the right areas.”


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