There was no consolation win for Sri Lanka in the final ODI of the five-match series at Colombo on Sunday as India completed a convincing 5-0 whitewash of the hosts.
The islanders were looking for the elusive victory which would seal their qualification for the 2019 ICC World Cup but will now have to wait for the results of West Indies’ limited-overs clashes against England and Ireland to learn their fate.
Upul Tharanga returned from his two-match suspension to captain the Sri Lanka squad and he had no hesitation in choosing to bat first after winning the toss. The hosts were bowled out for 238 runs as MS Dhoni became the first wicket-keeper to complete a century of stumpings in the 50-over format.
Chase-master Virat Kohli’s 30th ODI ton, his second in succession, ensured that the visitors made it home comfortably in the end after a slight wobble in the middle.
We look at the key talking points of India’s impressive victory as Sri Lanka were whitewashed for the first time in their own backyard.
After his scintillating 131-run knock in the fourth match at the same venue, captain Kohli continued from where he had left off as he took guard after the early loss of Ajinkya Rahane. India were in a slight spot of bother when Rohit Sharma fell soon to Vishwa Fernando leaving the visitors at 29-2.
While the islanders might have sniffed the whiff of an opportunity to claim their first win of the series at this stage, chase-master Kohli took control of the situation as he took his time to settle-down.
Once the threat was seen-off, the batting maestro’s fluid stroke-play made an appearance and there was no stopping him after that. The Delhi-born batsman pierced gaps at will and seldom did he play a rash shot as he snuffed out all hopes of a Sri Lanka victory over by over.
— ICC (@ICC) September 3, 2017
Kohli brought up 1,000 ODI runs in 2017 en-route to his 30th century to once again remind the world that he is the best batsman in the limited-overs format.
Sunday’s ton puts the Indian skipper level with Aussie legend Ricky Ponting with 30 centuries each, 19 behind the Master Blaster, Sachin Tendulkar.
Virat also tied Tendulkar’s record of eight 50-over tons against the islanders.
It was only fitting that the skipper hit the winning runs to remain unbeaten on 110.
The 27-year-old medium pacer has bowled with great control in the entire series but wickets have remained elusive for him going into the final game.
On Sunday, Kumar used his knuckle-ball delivery to great effect and reaped the rewards. The medium-pacer had opener Niroshan Dickwella completely deceived by the change of pace leading to a simple return catch to the bowler.
Kumar then saw Dilshan Munaweera deceived by the same delivery as Kohli pulled off a sensational catch at mid-off. His most important strike would come later when he broke a threatening 122-run stand for the fourth wicket by dismissing Lahiru Thirimanne. The left-handed batsman played on to an in-swinging delivery while attempting a cut to third-man.
The Indian bowler then dismissed Milinda Siriwardana and Lasith Malinga to complete his maiden five-wicket haul in ODIs.
At one stage of the game it looked like the hosts would post a total well in excess of 280 when they were cruising at 185-3 in the 39th over. After losing top-order batsmen within the first 10 overs, Thirimanne and Angelo Mathews had stabilized the innings and more as they patiently worked the bowlers around.
However, when Kumar broke the highest ever fourth-wicket partnership against India by dismissing Thirimanne, the hosts lost the plot and crumbled to a well below sub-par total of 238 all out.
Mathews had laboured to 55 runs off 97 deliveries and should have shouldered the responsibility to stay until the end after being well-set. His soft-dismissal to wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav after telegraphing the sweep shot will not look good on the experienced batsman.
Batting with a long-tail, the batsman to come failed to impose themselves after being given a solid platform as they fell one by one to the Indian bowlers.
The hosts could only muster 49 runs while losing six wickets in the final 10 overs which left the Sri Lankan bowlers with not enough runs to defend.
The NatWest T20 Blast Finals day at Trent Bridge saw boundaries, sixes, wickets and outrageous fielding galore as the four semi-finalists battled it out for the trophy.
However, the packed crowd suited in their colourful fancy-dresses which adorned the stands came looking for entertainment not only on the pitch but off the pitch as well.
Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff was on hand to make sure the supporters did not go home disappointed in that aspect as he took the microphone to serenade fans with his rendition of ‘Sweet Caroline’.
‘One more song’ was the demand of a capacity Edgbaston which clearly looked like it was having a rocking time and on came Freddie Flintoff.
— Sky Sports Cricket🏏 (@SkyCricket) September 2, 2017
The former England all-rounder was part of Sky’s commentary team for the coverage of the finals day and brought along a selfie-stick as he got the crowd singing to the tunes along with him.
Flintoff was totally engrossed in the moment while moving along next to the advertising hoardings as he captured the supporters with his selfie-stick.
Unfortunately for Freddie, he did not account for a speaker lying in his path which caused the Preston-born man to take an almighty tumble.
But in the spirit of the occasion, the 39-year-old was quickly back on his feet to finish the melody leading to a wild cheer from the crowd.
“Mind the Speaker” @flintoff11 hahahaha blessings buddy 👊🏾👊🏾
— Tino95 (@tinobest) September 2, 2017
Former West Indies pacer Tino Best did not miss the funny side of the moment and took to Twitter to remind Flintoff of his tumble.
“Mind the Speaker” @flintoff11 hahahaha blessings buddy,” wrote Best on his twitter.
All in all, it was a great day for the crowd and players alike as cricket and entertainment combined to tremendous effect.
Joe Root’s England were on the receiving end of one of cricket’s biggest upsets in recent times when the much maligned and inexperienced West Indies squad produced a powerhouse performance to win the second Test at Headingley by five wickets.
It seems the Englishmen want to leave no stone unturned when it comes to preparation for the final Test against the men from the Caribbean starting at Lord’s on September 7.
In the final run up to the Test series finale, there will be a unique ambidextrous bowler hurling it down towards the English batsmen in the nets.
Yasir Jan, a 22-year-old quick from Peshawar in Pakistan, had caught the eyes of many with his ability to generate serious pace from either arm during a talent hunt organized by Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchisee Lahore Qalanders, supervised by former Pakistan pacer Aaqib Javed.
So outrageous are his unique talents that the PSL franchisee Lahore Qalanders signed him on a 10-year developmental contract after his eye-catching performance in the talent-hunt.
It is reported that the Jan can generate a pace of 145 kph with his right arm and 135 kmph with his left.
The 22-year-old has a chest-on action in the mould of South Africa pacer Dale Steyn. It is no surprise that the Proteas bowler is one of the unique bowler’s inspirations alongside Pakistan greats like Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram.
Yasir is currently training in England as part of the MCC’S World Cricket Committee’s endeavour to aid the development of cricket in Pakistan.
He has been training at Lord’s along with the other MCC Young Cricketers and has been playing for Watford Town Cricket Club in the Saracens Hertfordshire Cricket League.
A special talent no doubt, it will be interesting to see how the likes of Root and Alastair Cook face up to Jan’s unique skills.