The transformation happened in the matter of a few days. The Indian cricket team went from looking like Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson, to looking like United under David Moyes as they got bundled out for 112 on Sunday at the picturesque Dharamsala.
Skipper Rohit Sharma lasted 13 balls. Hotshot Hardik Pandya lasted 10, while Shikhar Dhawan’s stint at the crease ended in just six balls. Between them, India’s top five batsmen — Rohit, Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik and Manish Pandey — totalled 13 runs. Here’s a look at how the Indian innings unravelled.
Dhawan was the first to depart. After frustrating Dhawan by forcing him to try and hit the ball from outside the off-stump, Angelo Mathews pitched one around the middle to trap the left-hander in front of the wicket. The Lankan appeals were turned down by umpire Simon Fry. But the Lankans went ahead with a review, which showed that there was no inside edge and that the ball would have gone on to hit the top of the stumps. So off went Dhawan leaving India a wicket down without a run on the board after 2 overs.
Suranga Lakmal began his third over sensationally. His short of a good length delivery to Rohit bounced just a bit more. The Mumbaikar poked at it and ‘keeper Niroshan Dickwella pouched it comfortably. Despite the Lankans appealing vociferously, umpire Anil Chaudhary was unmoved. The Lankans again opted for the review which, once again, went the visitors’ way as the Snickometre showed that the ball had indeed gone off the shoulder of Rohit's bat. After 4.1 overs, India now had as many players back in the hut as they had runs on the board — two.
Lakmal struck again in his sixth over by getting rid of Karthik, who has been thrown a lifeline to make a comeback into the Indian team by the selectors in this tour. Like Dhawan, Karthik faced a few outswingers before Lakmal got one to swing into the No 4 batsman. He tried to play it to mid-on but missed it completely and was struck on his front foot. His partner, Iyer, advised him against taking a review. India, at this point, were 8/3 after 8.5 overs with skipper Virat Kohli’s calmness and influence at the top of the order starting to show.
Pandey was next to fall. Again, it was Lakmal causing the damage. Pandey’s footwork was suspect on the delivery as he edged it to Mathews at first slip and India slipped further to 16/4 after 12.5 overs. The ever-dependable Mahendra Singh Dhoni came out to salvage the innings at this point.
Three balls later, Iyer, who was making his ODI debut, was back in the hut after dragging a Nuwan Pradeep delivery onto the stumps. The Mumbai batsman paid the price for trying to cut a full-length delivery even though there was no width provided by the bowler. India 16/5 after 13.2 overs.
Pandya, back in the squad after sitting out of the Test series, lasted just 10 balls before leaving Dhoni to carry the Indian innings all on his own. Having scored 10 runs off his first nine balls, Pandya edged a delivery to gift Mathews, standing at first slip, a catch. India were staring down the barrel by this point with the scoreboard reading 28/6 after 15.2 overs.
Pandya's departure brought Bhuvneshwar Kumar to the crease. The India pacer had scored his first 50 en route to stitching together a 100-run stand with Dhoni against Sri Lanka at Kandy in August this year. However, he lasted only five balls before nicking a Lakmal delivery to Dickwella. Kumar departed without disturbing the score as India were 29/7 after 16.4 overs.
At this point, Kuldeep Yadav and Dhoni got together to bear the burden of reviving India’s hopes. The UP lad seemed to be in good touch, scoring 19 runs of 25 balls and being a part of a 41-run stand with Dhoni. However, that stand ended as he perished trying to defend a delivery from Akila Dananjaya. Unfortunately, the ball went past the edge and Dickwella whipped the bails off in a flash. India were 70/8 after 26 overs at that point.
At this point, Dhoni ensured that he played as many balls as possible and protect Bumrah at the other end. Bumrah, on his part, defended resolutely for 15 balls before being bowled for a duck by Sachith Pathirana. India were at 87/9 after 34.3 overs.
Dhoni was the last man to fall for India. The former India captain had single-handedly dragged the Men in Blue to 112. Dhoni let himself lose in the final overs and hit a couple of sixes before finally holing out to Gunathilaka in the deep off Thisara Perera.
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